Family protests after body of missing girl found, three suspects arrested


The victim’s family protest at Taramri Chowk in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
The victim’s family protest at Taramri Chowk in Islamabad on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: The family of a child whose body was found in a village on the outskirts of the capital blocked Taramri Chowk on Tuesday to protest against alleged inaction by the police.

The body of a girl, believed to be 10-year-old Farishta who went missing on May 15, was recovered Monday evening.

Three people have been arrested so far, according to a statement issued by Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) (Operations) Waqaruddin Syed. In addition, a committee headed by two superintendents of police has been formed to investigate the case.

In a late night development, after negotiations between the family, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan and DIG Syed, it was agreed that a case would be registered against the police officials responsible. However, the FIR was not registered until the filing of this report.

l Victim disappeared while playing outside her house on May 15 l Family alleges police inaction, demands dismissal of all Shahzad Town officials l SHO suspended

A senior police officer said the FIR could be registered at any time against the station house officer (SHO) and the investigating officer on criminal negligence charges.

According to police sources and the victim’s family, she disappeared while playing outside her house on May 15 and a missing person’s report was registered the next day.

A kidnapping case was registered four days later on May 19, after the intervention of an MNA, who took up the case with Inspector General of Police Mohammad Aamir Zulfikar Khan.

The victim was found murdered the next day, when villagers spotted a body in a wooded area in Tamma village and informed the police. The body was identified as that of Farishta by her father Gul Nabi, who recognised her by her clothes.

An autopsy report is awaited, police said, but the body appears to be four days old. Samples have also been taken for a DNA test to confirm the victim’s identity. Police said that it is believed that the victim was subjected to gang-rape and torture, and samples have been taken to ascertain these claims.

The family had placed the body of the deceased on the road, and continued to protest until this report was filed.

They have demanded the immediate suspension of all the police officials posted at the Shahzad Town police station and the sub-divisional police officer, police and capital administration officials said.

The brother of the victim, a vegetable vendor, said that she went missing on May 15. The family lodged a complaint with the Shahzad Town police at around 10pm, which was not entertained by the officials there. He said the police registered their complaint at midnight.

The family then exhausted all efforts for the next few days until they met with the Shahzad Town station house officer (SHO), who gave them a casual response, he said.

An FIR was registered on May 19 against unidentified individuals under Pakistan Penal Code section 365-B.

The FIR stated that the victim disappeared from outside her house on May 15. Her father suspected she had been kidnapped, and the matter was reported to the police immediately, it added.

The Shahzad Town SHO has been suspended.

According to police, the suspension was ordered by police high-ups in order to hush-up the matter.

A departmental inquiry has also been ordered against the police officials who delayed initiating legal action and did not act promptly in response to the complainant.

The district magistrate has ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident and issued a notification in this regard, which stated that 10-year-old Farishta was kidnapped by unknown individuals from her residence in Alipur village on May 15.

The notification said her father submitted an application to register an FIR with the Shahzad Town police on May 16, but registration was intentionally delayed by the concerned police until May 19. The body of the victim was recovered from Tamma village, it added.

The inquiry will look into allegations that the police registered the case after a four-day delay, and initiate legal proceedings to determine the circumstances of the child’s death.

Minister for InteriorIjaz Ahmed Shah has also sought a report on the incident from the IGP, a statement said.

The minister has ordered immediate legal action against those involved in the crime.

When contacted, DIG Waqaruddin Syed said the child disappeared May 15 and a report on the matter was registered May 16.

The call with him was disconnected shortly after, and he could not be reached for further comment.

A senior police officer said that the father of the victim had lodged a complaint about her disappearance, which was registered, and the police began investigating her disappearance.

The officer claimed the victim’s father then changed his statement and lodged a kidnapping complaint on May 19, and a case was registered immediately.

He said there was no delay in the registration of the case.

When asked about delays in the registration of the case and whether the police only acted after an MNA took up the matter, police spokesperson Inspector Khalid Awan said: “Nothing such happened.”

He did not make any further comments.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser reached the protest before Iftar and invited the victim’s family for negotiations at the office of the Tarlaiassistant commissioner, police and administration officials said. The family refused to meet with him, and he left.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Ali Nawaz Awan also came to the protest to negotiate with the family, officials said. Until this report was filed, efforts were still in progress to convince the family to negotiate with him.

The circumstances compelled the district magistrate to initiate a judicial inquiry. Additional Deputy Commissioner (HQ) Bilawal Abro was appointed to conduct the inquiry and furnish a comprehensive report within a week, officials said.

Senator Rehman Malik, who chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, has also taken notice of the case.

Polyclinic conducts night-time autopsy

An autopsy was carried out at Polyclinic late at night after the body was recovered, despite outdated standard operating procedures (SOP) that say post-mortem examinations cannot be carried out after sunset.

Polyclinic Executive Director Dr Shahid Hanif said: “The body reached the hospital late Monday night, and I was informed about it after midnight. We have an SOP that autopsies are conducted in daylight, so it was decided that the body would be kept in the mortuary and an autopsy would be conducted in the morning. It also required the constitution of a medical board, approval from the magistrate and the availability of a female doctor.”

However, Dr Hanif said, relatives of the deceased and others insisted that the body be handed over without any delays. He said some politicians, including MNA Mohsin Dawar, also reached the hospital and sought an autopsy.

“As we did not want to create a law and order issue, so we sought verbal permission from the magistrate and the dead body was handed over after an autopsy at 3am,” he said.

A hospital doctor who asked not to be named said a number of samples were collected during the autopsy. He said the body was almost a week old and a lot of evidence was lost because of the condition of the body.

He said signs of torture were evident on the body, and a detailed report will be released later.

The doctor added that daylight used to be considered the base source of light for postmortems, but now high-quality light is available so the time of day does not make a difference.

“Postmortems have been started at night across the world, and even in Pakistan night-time post-mortems are carried out in emergencies or politically sensitive cases. I believe postmortems should be done at the earlier, because a delay in the autopsy increases chances that evidence will be lost. However, it is a fact that there are a lot of administrative problems with night-time postmortems that need to be considered,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2019