Lahore  -   Supporters of religio-political parties as well as activists of civil society staged separate demonstrations in Lahore on Thursday to register their protest against the government over rape and murder of a child in Kasur.

The tragedy sparked violent protests in Kasur which claimed at least two more lives on Wednesday. The brutalisation of seven-year-old Zainab also sent ripples of anger across the country.

As television channels reported on child’s gruesome murder and flashed pictures of police firing on an angry mob to check its advance to the deputy commissioner’s office, people at large took to social media to condemn inefficiency and apathy of authorities.

The latest rape and murder of a child is the sixth such incident reported in the Kasur district during the last three months, police sources revealed. In 2017, police reported over one dozen such cases in the same district.

Political protest

Followers of PAT chief Tahirul Qadri staged a demo at the party headquarters in Model Town. The protesters included women and children from his party’s orphan care home, Aghosh.

Pakistan People’s Party leaders Qamar Zaman Kaira and Main Manzoor Watto, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed and leaders from PML-Q and MWM also joined the Qadri-led protest.

In his address, Dr Qadri announced a joint struggle for seeking justice over Model Town massacre and Kasur cruelty.

“Similar crimes are being reported from other districts of Punjab but the rulers paid no heed to protection of public,” he said citing a case of rape of a teen in Sarghoda.

He went on: “All nefarious crimes are being committed in connivance with ruling PML-N lawmakers directly or indirectly. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and Punjab Inspector General Police should step down. I appeal to chief justice and army chief to look into the matter.”

Kaira also criticised the government for its failure to protect the children, saying: “The nation is sad over the gruesome inhuman act with the child. Zainab’s family informed the administration but no action was taken.” Wattoo said: “Public protest showed Pakistani nation would not tolerate social evil anymore. This is truly regrettable.

Sheikh Rashid slammed Sanaullah and Shehbaz and announced visiting Kasur in a rally from Faisalabad.  Kamil Ali Agha of PML-Q dubbed the Kasur incident ‘Model Town Tragedy Part 2’.

In a statement, former PM Ch Shujaat Hussain has laid stress on action, saying: “Just lip service on cases like Zainab’s killing would not deliver. “Those committing such heinous crimes should be hanged publicly like it was done in Ziaul Haq era and legislation should be done for setting up of special courts like the army courts,” he said.  Shujaat said,” All should remember the Model Town bloodbath and Ch Pervaiz Elahi was the first leader who reached Minhajul Quran to show solidarity with the victims.   “I had demanded setting of special courts for hearing such heinous cases so that the hardcore criminals could be hanged.  "If the rulers heed to my suggestion, several children could be saved from brutes ,” he said.  PML-Q central leader Moonis Elahi in his statement lashed out the PML-N government for its failure to protect the lives of public from police.

Angry Youth

Separately, Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) members rallied outside the Punjab University new campus. Speakers on the occasion condemned the killing after rape of a child in Kasur.

Another student union, Progressive Student Collective, staged a demo in front of Punjab Assembly. Carrying banners and placards, the protesters appealed to authorities concerned to take steps to avert such incidents. Similar demos by students for various universities were reported in the city.

Civil Society’s vigil

Civil society activist held a candlelit vigil at Liberty Chowk to raise the demand for justice for the departed soul. The participants called upon authorities to adopt concrete measures to control such crimes.

Black coats’ black day

Lawyers marked Thursday as a black day to condemn the rape and murder of a child in Kasur and demanded the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah. 

On the call of Punjab Bar Council, the lawyers wore black ribbons and armbands to protest against government’s failure to protect the lives of people. They boycotted also courts’ proceedings. 

At its general house meeting, the Lahore High Court Bar Association termed the murder ‘a brutal incident’ and called the police ‘cruel’ for their traditional apathy. The bar leaders said that the whole country and every sensible person is sad.

“It is very shameful that the body of the innocent child was found from the rubbish,” said Bar President Chaudhary Zulfiqar Ali said in his address. 

“The leaders have lost right to rule after the incident. It is shocking that the family got the body four days after the incident,” he said.

The bar president also condemned the murder of two citizens during the protest.

“We could not forget the Model Town incident that now this brutal incident has taken place,” Ali said and demanded Supreme Court Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa take notice as the Punjab CM was busy “covering his corruption that’s why he could not take notice on time.”

The people had been left at the mercy of criminals, said the Lahore High Court Bar Association president. Zaheer Butt, the finance secretary of bar association, said that they were planning to run a movement for justice and offered legal help to the victim family.

The association also boycotted of the court. The lawyers remained at their chambers and they held prayer for the diseased.   The lawyers also offered free legal aid to the victim family.

 

 

Faizan Ali Warraich 

Fida Hussnain