LAHORE - Police investigators have virtually shelved the probe into the five-year-old girl’s rape as findings have led them down a dead-end, a senior officer disclosed to The Nation on Monday.

Police have also released all the suspects detained and interrogated for several days in connection with the brutal assault on the minor girl in Lahore city’s Mughalpura area.

Ironically, not even a single policeman has been held responsible for the dubious and faulty probe into the horrendous rape case which also brought bad name to the country besides drawing worldwide condemnation.

Lahore investigation police chief, DIG Zulifqar Hameed, is still occupying the key slot in Police Department despite the fact that police, under his command, have badly failed to track down the rapists. Hameed had been appointed as Lahore DIG (Investigations) by the interim government.

A police source said the deadline given to Lahore Police by the Punjab chief minister himself expired Monday night, but investigations could not yield any results. “Police are putting their all out efforts in to trace out the culprit(s),” said Civil Lines SP (Investigations) Imtiaz Sarwar, when contacted.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while chairing a high-level meeting the other day, expressed disappointment over police probe and issued strict orders for arrest of the culprits.

According to insiders, top police investigators are most likely to be shown the door as the chief minister was not satisfied with the working of investigation wing of Lahore Police. 

Earlier, the chief minister stated the arrest of the accused was a test for Lahore Police. “Police have virtually failed and top cops will have to face the music now,” an official close to the chief minister commented on the condition of anonymity.

The brutal assault triggered nationwide protests and condemnations. Demonstrators demanded the accused be given public execution. They also pressed the government for adequate steps to fend off such happenings.

“If police are unable to track down the criminals involved in the terrible assault on a five-year-old girl, can the cops cope with the serious challenge of terrorism,” questioned Nasrin Fatima, a schoolteacher in Mozang neighbourhood.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday directed police to arrest the rapist(s). “Provision of justice to the aggrieved family is my duty and responsibility and I will not rest till I finish this job,” an official handout quoted the chief minister as saying.

He said police should spare no effort in arresting the accused. He also urged police to investigate the case from all angles besides examining evidences through scientific techniques so that deterrent punishment could be awarded to the accused as per law. 

Police are yet to identify any culprit, though investigators went through four different CCTV footages.

Police sources said two men, identified as Zafar Iqbal alias Shama and a ward-boy of the hospital, were also released after interrogation.

Earlier, investigators claimed both the men were prime suspects but none of them confessed they had involvement in the heinous crime, nor could police get any solid evidence against them.

On the other hand, the rape victim is recovering fast in the hospital, where she spends most of her time playing with toys. Reportedly, the girl identified the prime suspect after investigators shown her pictures of a few suspected persons. Police however denied the main accused had been identified.

According to a media report, the victim also told the investigators that she was assaulted at a house located close to an ice-cream factory in Mughalpura area. Police believe the rapist, said to be an addict, was a resident of the same locality. However, no arrest was made till Monday night.

The youngest of nine siblings was found dumped in the parking lot of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital on September 13.