Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Tuesday announced that the serial killer behind the murders of four minor boys in Kasur district has been identified.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, the chief minister said that 27-year-old Suhail Shehzad had been identified using polygraphic and DNA testing.
The suspect has been arrested and is expected to be produced before an antiterrorism court in Lahore tomorrow.
"Geo-fencing for 1,649 suspects was done and DNA samples of 1,543 were tested," said Buzdar, as he revealed details of the police probe conducted to unearth the suspect's identity. He said that semen on the clothes of one boy and blood on the clothes of another matched with samples of the suspect.
The chief minister confirmed that the suspect was behind all four cases of sodomy and murder which had shaken Kasur last month and shone fresh light on the continued prevalence of child sexual abuse in the country. "The case against him will be pursued in an anti-terrorism court where hearings will be held on a daily basis," he announced.
"I have instructed the prosecutor general to oversee the case," declared Buzdar, adding that he, too, will follow it closely. "I assure the families of the victims that they will get justice."
According to the Punjab inspector general of police, the suspect is a resident of Rana Town in Chunian — the tehsil where the remains of the minor boys were discovered— and committed the crimes in June, August and September.
This is not the first time Shehzad has been accused of rape. A senior police officer told Dawn that Shehzad had been working as an auto rickshaw driver for many years and he was convicted of rape many years ago. He was arrested first time in 2011 for raping a five-year-old boy of Rana Town and was held guilty of the charge during trial in court.
A case (36/11) had been registered against him in a local police station, the police official said.
The suspect had changed his profession after completing his jail term and started working at a tandoor in Chunian, he said and added that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) obtained criminal record of the accused residing in Chunian and other adjoining areas from the police and got their DNA samples.
Four children — aged between eight and 12 years — had gone missing since June this year with the latest, Faizan, 8, disappearing on the night of September 16.
The remains of three of them were found on September 17 from sand dunes near Chunian bypass.
Chief Minister Buzdar had taken notice of the incident and sought a report from the Punjab police chief.
Meanwhile, protests were held to express concern over lawlessness and failure of police to protect the lives of people.
In the last few years, Kasur has been rocked by multiple incidents of abuse, rape and killing of children. In January 2018, six-year-old Zainab Ansari was found dead in a trash heap near Shahbaz Khan Road, five days after she went missing. Hers was the 12th such incident to have occurred within a 10-kilometre radius in Kasur over a 12-month period. Her death had sparked nationwide protests and outrage.
The prime suspect, Imran Ali, had been arrested on January 23, 2018, and on June 12 the Supreme Court had turned down his appeal against the death sentence, noting that he had admitted to committing similar offences with eight other minor victims. Ali was subsequently executed in October last year.
In 2015, Kasur’s Hussain Khanwala village had attracted worldwide attention when a child pornography ring was busted. Hundreds of video clips had emerged showing a gang forcing dozens of minor boys and girls to perform sexual acts and filming them. The gang had also used the videos to blackmail families of the children and extorted millions in cash and jewellery from them.