The exhumation and postmortem analysis of the body of a nine-year-old girl, who died in Sindh’s Khairpur allegedly due to torture, was completed on Saturday, Sindh Health Services Director General Dr Irshad Memon told Dawn.com.

The deceased girl, Fatima Fariro, was employed as a domestic maid at a haveli (mansion) owned by local influential Pir Asad Shah — who is now in custody — and found dead under mysterious circumstances earlier this week.

Subsequently, a case was lodged on the complaint of her mother, Shabnam Khatoon, under Sections 302 (intentional murder) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of a common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) at Ranipur police station and an investigation was initiated.

Yesterday, the Sindh government constituted a four-member medical board for the exhumation and post-mortem analysis of the girl’s body.

The procedures were completed today evening at a graveyard in the Naushahro Feroz district, where her body was buried, Dr Memon said.

“The day-long process began in the morning in which services of two experts — one from the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) and the other from the Karachi health department — were obtained,” he said, adding that Dr Zakiuddin Bhatti, who specialises in forensic medicine, and Karachi police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed were also present on the site to assist the medical board.

Moreover, the Sindh health services deputy director general was also present to provide administrative support, he said.

For the procedures, mortuary kits were provided by three facilities, Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital, Karachi, Civil Hospital, Hyderabad and the Peoples University of Medical and Health Sciences in Nawabshah.

“It was a lengthy procedure conducted by close to 100 people, including officials from the police, district administration and health department, as well as their supporting staff.

“We are trying our best to collect facts regarding the cause of her (Fatima) death so that the court can ensure justice,” Dr Irshad said.

Now, he added, the medical board’s members would prepare a report after consultations in Naushahro Feroze, where they would be facilitated by the district health officer for gathering factual information about the case and other relevant matters.

Dr Irshad further shared that the medical board had also preserved the body’s viscera — internal organs of a body — for chemical analysis. A provisional report was expected to be prepared by tonight, he added.

The case

Fatima’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 the 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.

After the videos went viral in the district, police took notice of the matter and Sukkur Counterterrorism Department Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP)Abdul Qudoos Kalwar met the girl’s parents. He later met social activists and viewed the viral videos, subsequently reporting to Sukkur Deputy Inspector General Javed Jiskani that the matter was serious and the exhumation of Fatima’s body was required.

Meanwhile, a case was registered on the complaint of Fatima’s mother.

On Aug 17, Khair­pur police arrested a key suspect in the case, who was later remanded into police custody.

Khairpur Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mir Rohal Khan, meanwhile, told Dawn that Station House Officer Ameer Ali Chang, Dr Fatah Memon (a health department employee) and a compounder were also detained for interrogation in the case.

The SSP told Dawn.com today that another girl had come up with allegations of torture against Pir Asad Shah’s family.

The girl’s statement was being added to Fatima’s case, he said.

The SSP quoted the girl as saying that Shah and his wife, Hina Shah, used to beat her, adding that a video of her statement had gone viral, following which he asked the investigating officer of Fatima’s case to meet the other girl and “ convert her video statement into a statement of police under Section 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to make it a part of the case file of Fatima’s case“.

“She is reportedly related to Fatima,” he said, adding that he had been informed that the girl had left her employer’s house to reach her village, Khanwahan, to which Fatima also belonged.

SHRC finds serious lacunas in FIR

The Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) has found serious lacunas in the case’s first information report (FIR) of Fatima’s death and called for incorporation in the case of sections of relevant laws about child protection and bonded labour.

SHRC chairperson Iqbal Detho took suo motu notice of the widely reported incident about the girl’s death in mysterious circumstances. The FIR had been registered under sections 302 and 34 of the PPC and the commission noted that relevant sections like 370 and 374 of the PPC, dealing with forced labour and torture had not been applied deliberately, he said.

These sections included 4 (1) (2) of the Sindh Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 2015, sections 3 and 14 of the Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Act, 2017; sections 2 (a-i) and 17 of the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act, 2011, he said.

He directed SSP to take legal course regarding allegations of torture and conduct a fair and transparent enquiry into the murder. If the case under the above offences was made out during investigation then these sections should be incorporated in the FIR as per law without fear or favour in the larger interest of human rights, he said.

He fixed the matter for hearing on Aug 21 and said an officer now below the rank of deputy superintendent of police should appear before him along with a report.

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