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BAHAWALPUR: The Punjab home department has formed a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the alleged rape and murder of three girls in the Cholistan desert in June.

The JIT has been constituted on the recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights. The human rights committee’s chairman Rehman Malik was pursuing the girls’ case.

According to the sources in the office of Bahawalpur regional police officer (RPO), the JIT would be headed by an additional inspector general (AIG) of police who has been asked to submit the report within four weeks. The sources told Dawn the JIT would have two more investigating officials as its members and it would also be authorised to seek assistance of other intelligence agencies.

The JIT would probe as to why the deceased girls set on a journey in the hottest days of June when the windstorm was blowing and how they lost their way. It would also look into the delay in registration of the case by the police officials concerned.

It may be recalled that earlier, the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights had also set up an inquiry committee, headed by the then caretaker Punjab law minister, and assisted by police officials and Commissioner Nayyar Iqbal.

It visited the scene of occurrence in Cholistan in July and met with the girls’ family members and other notables of the area. It had found no evidence of torture, rape and murder of three girls and all its members were of the view that the girls had lost their way in the desert and died of hunger and thirst.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2018