HYDERABAD/SUKKUR: Khair­pur police arrested a key suspect in connection with the mysterious death of a young girl in the Ranipur taluka of Khairpur district, even as the Sukkur DIG suspended the local police station house officer and formed a committee to investigate the matter.

According to reports, 10-year-old Fatima, employed as a domestic maid at a haveli owned by a local influential, was found dead under mysterious circumstances.

After her death, the employer reportedly informed the girl’s mother of her death and advised her to remove the body from the premises.

Fatima’s mother stated that they brought her daughter’s body from the haveli, where she claimed two of her other daughters were also working.

DIG Sukkur forms committee to probe case; family initially reluctant to come forward, mother claims girl’s body bore marks of torture

The relatives of the girl buried her in their native graveyard near the village Khanwah in Naushahro Feroz.

A case has been lodged on the complaint of Fatima’s mother, Shamim Khatoon, under sections 302 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code at Ranipur police station and an investigation has begun.

DIG Sukkur Javed Jiskani confirmed that he had formed a team, led by SSP Khairpur district Rohail Khoso, to investigate the matter and conduct an exhumation of the body to verify the allegations of torture. Other members of SSP Khoso’s team are DSP Counterterrorism Department Sukkur Abdul Qudoos Kalwar and ASP Gambat, Noman Siddiqui.

“We have applied for exhumation of the body for post-mortem, as the girl has been buried by [her] parents, apparently out of fear,” DIG Jiskani told Dawn over phone from Sukkur.

The girl’s father Nadeem Ali Phariro had initially claimed that the girl was afflicted by some stomach-related ailment, as indicated by doctors when she was taken to a private hospital on the night of Aug 14-15.

Later, the girl died in her house after having been discharged from hospital.

Claims about her death transpiring as a result of torture came to fore when videos of a girl bearing torture marks went viral. It was not known who leaked the videos. These videos were obtained by the police team, which also met some social activists from the area.

The haveli belongs to a family commonly known in Khairpur district as Pir of Ranipur. “This haveli belongs to Pir Asad Shah, who has been taken into custody by police,” DIG confirmed.

“The parents didn’t share the facts initially with police and buried their daughter on Aug 15,” said DIG while responding to a query.

He added that the girl was taken to local hospital by the pir or his staff, where doctors said that she was suffering from gastroenteritis.

“The SHO was present in the hospital when she was pronounced dead,” he said.

After the videos went viral in the district, police took notice of the matter and DSP Qudoos Kalwar met the girl’s parents. Following his meeting with social activists and going through viral videos, the DSP reported to the DIG that the matter was serious and demanded the exhumation of the body.

“The parents were told that if they didn’t disclose facts, police will take action on their own, will go for exhumation and lodge a case,” the DIG said.

The SSP also spoke to the girl’s mother who after some cajoling by police, agreed to tell her story. “My daughter had a fractured arm. She had bruises and some marks — apparently of torture — were there on her body, especially around her neck and belly.”

The SSP told that police would also get DNA test done if need be. “If there was apprehension of any rape, then police will certainly go for DNA test as well to exclude this factor,” the DIG stated.

When contacted, Sindh Director General Health Dr Irshad Memon said that it appeared that doctors’ reports about her examination needed to be verified.

Condemning the incident in a statement, the Women Action Forum also urged Sindh Human Rights Commission chairperson Iqbal Detho, the chairperson of Sindh Commission on Status of Women, and Child Protection Authority functionaries to take notice of such incidents and incompetence of officials concerned.

It urged Sindh’s inspector general of police to protect the girl’s parents and ensure that the FIR for murder should be lodged without delay.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2023

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