Khairpur police have apprehended the prime suspect in the murder of a 13-year-old girl that had put the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party in an awkward position as the suspects are said to be relatives of the party’s legislators.
Police arrested 47-year-old Zulfikar Wassan, alias Zulfu, on Wednesday after tracing the location of his mobile phone with the help of a locator. He was taken into custody in the lower Sindh area of Sorah, a desert region of Khairpur district that borders Sanghar district.
“We arrested Zulfikar alias Zulfu in the early hours of Wednesday after we managed to trace his mobile phone. He had been changing his mobile number ever since the incident,” said Khairpur Senior Superintendent of Police Umar Tufail.
After his arrest, Zulfu complained of hypertension, police told Dawn.
Editorial: Rise in ‘honour’ crimes
Police had first picked up Ghaffar Wassan, a relative of Zulfikar, after Ramsha’s mother had named him. Ghaffar had allegedly abetted Zulfikar in the crime as he had accompanied him to the victim's house along with two other suspects, who remain at large.
Ghaffar had already been remanded to police custody by a judicial magistrate on Tuesday.
According to the SSP, Ramsha had eloped with another man from the family, Izhar Wassan, on January 19. Izhar’s paternal uncle had intervened and brought her back. It was later decided that the matter would be settled amicably by an elder from the Wassan family.
However, before the matter could be deliberated upon, Ramsha was gunned down in her house allegedly by Zulfikar 'over honour'. Since then the suspect remained at large.
Police had picked up around three dozen suspects in their attempt to get their hands on Zulfikar. Police officers told Dawn that even two policemen — who were connected closely with the politically influential Wassans — were picked up under the SSP’s directives. They were kept at "some secret location" to get information regarding the whereabouts of Zulfikar.
Resultantly, the names of a driver of Zulfikar and two other suspects — including one belonging to the Gopang community — were divulged by the held policemen.
“Khairpur police have done an unprecedented job as far as the Wassans are concerned. Nobody [previously] dared to lay their hands on the Wassans. But Khairpur police under the guidance of SSP Tufail even raided their homes,” said a local journalist from Khairpur.
Police upon reaching Zulfikar's home caused significant damage to create terror, according to a police officer. “No male member from the Wassans was present when the police raided their homes”, the officer confided to Dawn over the phone.
The mobile phone numbers of Zulfikar and his associates were closely monitored by police. During examination, it was found that one number was frequently calling different numbers for brief conversations.
“Locators were used to reach Zulfikar and he was finally arrested in the Sorah area of Khairpur district”, SSP Tufail told Dawn. He said that Zulfikar was involved in 20 different cases, three of them pertaining to honour killings.
Zulfikar remained out of Khairpur district for quite some time to dodge the police. Khairpur SSP had formed several teams that raided areas in Jamshoro, Dadu, Sanghar and even Rahimyar Khan of Punjab.
Zulfikar is said to be the relative of PPP’s Sindh Assembly member from Khairpur, Munawar Wassan. Munawar could not be reached over the phone when approached for a comment.
PPP Parliamentarians MNA from Khairpur and the party's information secretary, Nafisa Shah, met Ramsha’s mother on Wednesday. She said that the “Wassans have cooperated with the police in the matter”. She further said that the arrest showed that the police have worked independently.
Ramsha Wassan, 13, was gunned down in Piro Waddu area of Kotdiji, Khairpur district on February 1 by four unidentified persons. Police said that she was sprayed with nine bullets using a 9mm weapon.
Police have lodged a case on behalf of the state given that it was a killing 'over honour'.
The case echoed in Sindh Assembly’s recent session and Sindh chief minister had directed the Khairpur police to immediately arrest the assailants.