KASUR: No arrest has been confirmed yet in Zainab murder case as violence flared up across the Kasur city on the second consecutive day on Thursday with complete shutter-down strike. All locals markets and shops remained closed and there was no public transport on the roads.

While top police investigators and intelligence operatives are struggling to uncover the culprit, the provincial authorities have announced Rs10 million bounty on the killer’s capture, alive or dead.

A Punjab government spokesman told The Nation that the federal intelligence agencies and police investigators are working together to unearth the country’s “most wanted criminal.”

“No suspect has been apprehended since nobody has pointed figure (towards the culprit) in Zainab murder case yet. We have a clue and we are working on those lines in the light of the CCTV footage,” Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan told this reporter at his Khudian Khaas residence.

Khan was one of the several ruling party’s parliamentarians who were left with no other choice expert to stay behind boundary walls as clashes erupted between police and protesters on Thursday evening.

In some parts of the city, angry mob tried to attack the residences of local parliamentarians, belonging to the ruling party.

Elite police personnel were seen guarding the houses of local parliamentarians amid large-scale violence in the town. Heavy police contingents were called in to control the mob that started throwing stones on the policemen deployed around key government installations.

Police fired tear-gas to disperse the mob at different points but they fought back and pelted the police with stones and bricks. The police also used water cannon to break up protests. The law and order situation worsened in the evening as clashes erupted on major crossings. The roads were seen littered with pieces of bricks and empty shells and pillars of smoke were visible from a reasonable distance.

“The suspect is not identified, and so far, nobody came up to reveal his name,” Ahmad Khan said while referring to a widely circulated CCTV footage showing the child being led by the hand by a man on the day she was abducted.

According to Khan who is also Special Assistant to the Punjab Chief Minister, the forensic experts were examining the footage. “The footage is not so clear, unfortunately,” he said. “The killer seems to be familiar with the child since the girl could be seen (in the footage) strolling with him quite comfortably.”

The government spokesman also condemned the police shooting that left two protesters dead and seven others wounded. Earlier, a Punjab government official claimed that six personnel, including four policemen and two civil defence officials were arrested by police for allegedly firing at the protesters.

“Initial investigation suggests that the victims were fired by the official bodyguards of the Kasur Deputy Commissioner. The police guards opened fire when the mob tried to advance towards the office of the deputy commissioner,” Khan claimed.

To a question about the recent killings of a few alleged child murderers, the official said that they were investigating a specific case in which the police “incorrectly” shot and killed an alleged child rapist. “A judicial inquiry is underway (with regard to staged police shooting),” he admitted.

Khan said the police were doing “mapping” of the locality to get some solid clues. “Any real-time picture of the suspect will be more helpful as compared to sketches (prepared by law enforcement agencies),” he added.

In the afternoon, large crowds thronged to a local ground to offer funeral prayers of two victims of police shooting. Violent clashes followed the funerals.

In Kasur city, the Kashmir Chowk located on the Shahbaz Khan Road, became battlefield. The city of millions remain disconnected from other parts of the province throughout the day as thousands of protesters equipped with wooden sticks and iron roads took over all major roads and crossings in the morning.

Some politicians, mostly of the ruling party, were forced to go back home when they attempted to visit the house of the victim family. However, angry protested welcomed the religious and political leaders belonging to the opposition parties.

Muhammad Amin father of the child while talking to reporters outside his house reiterated that they had no trust in the government and the police. “We demand justice for Zainab from the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the Chief of Army Staff. We don’t believe in the joint investigation team,” he said on Thursday. 

A day earlier, military chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa ordered the security agencies to step up efforts and help local administration in hunting down the culprit.

The streets of a small town named Road Kot, where Zainab used to play, were filled with people on Thursday. A large number of people were seen chanting slogans against the police and the government as they passed through the narrow streets in the low-income neighbourhood.

One day after burial of the seven-year-old girl, her postmortem report revealed that she was raped before strangulation.

District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Medico Legal Officer Dr Quratulain Attique told reporters that the child had died of strangulation while her hymen was ruptured. There was also evidence to suggest that the child had been sodomized, the medical officer said.

Sources close to police investigators revealed that there were visible marks of torture on her face and congestion in her muscles while her tongue was badly bruised and injured as it was pressed between her teeth. She said the hyoid bone was fractured, indicating strangulation.

Dr Attique said an initial examination suggested she might have died three to four days ago.  On January 4, Zainab went missing when she was going to a nearby religious school.

Although the MLO did not explicitly confirm that the minor was raped, findings in the autopsy suggest that she may have been sexually assaulted. There was mud, fecal matter and blood found on her body, said Dr Attique, and samples of semen, vaginal fluid and blood were collected from her body.

The samples have been sent to a lab in Lahore for testing, Dr Attique said, adding that the process of testing can take up to three months. Dr Attique said that this was the fourth such case she has seen in the seven months at district headquarter hospital in DHQ Kasur.

“There are similarities in all such cases. The findings in previous cases were similar to those in Zainab’s case,” the lady doctor explained.

Over one dozen child rape and murder cases were reported by police in Kasur district last year and most of the victims belonged to the same locality, police sources said.

Child abuse cases are not rare in this “developed” province. Hundreds of children are molested across the Punjab province every year. Also dozens of rape victims are killed by criminals, the police data shows. In the recent child rape and murder cases, all the young victims were targeted and killed in a similar style.