A man was shot dead and a dozen others, including 10 policemen, suffered wounds from gunshots and stones during a demonstration in Manghopir that turned violent as protesters demanded justice for the family of a six-year-old girl who was raped and murdered.
West Zone DIGP Amir Farooqi told The News that police had found the minor’s body near the Pakistan Hotel Northern Bypass on Monday, adding that the girl, identified as Rabia, had been missing from her Orangi Town house since Saturday afternoon.
In his police complaint, the victim’s grandfather Abdul Qadir held Raheem Kareem Bakhsh, Faqeer Muhammad and Fazal Ghulam Rasool responsible for the girl’s disappearance. The DIGP said Bakhsh and Rasool were taken into police custody during raids conducted in different parts of Orangi Town.
Orangi Town Division SP Abid Ali Baloch said the initial autopsy report suggests the girl was subjected to sexual assault before being strangled to death. He confirmed that two of the three suspects have been arrested and their DNA samples sent for analysis.
DIGP Farooqi said that some people blocked Manghopir Road to protest against the rape and murder, but they later started vandalising public property. He said 10 policemen were injured when protesters pelted them with stones, adding that unidentified miscreants shot a man dead and injured two others during the disturbance.
SP Baloch said he was informed by the Peerabad police at 8:30am that some people had gathered at MPR Chowk on Manghopir Road with the victim’s body, adding that the protesters had set tyres on fire and blocked both tracks of the road.
He said the victim’s father Baqa Muhammad sought police’s help to rescue his family from the protesters, who, according to him, were using his daughter’s rape and murder for political point-scoring.
The officer said Muhammad claimed that his family wanted to bury his daughter, but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Saeed Afridi, Advocate Attaullah and Dawood did not allow them to take her body to the graveyard.
On the SP’s orders, the police officials on the site of the protest tried to disperse the crowd to help the victim’s family leave for the burial. Baloch said that when the cops failed in their attempts, they baton-charged the protesters and resorted to aerial firing.
The officer said that some miscreants among the protesters pelted police with stones and pushed them back, while a group attacked and damaged police and media vans. “Someone also opened fire on the police officials, resulting in injuries to three men.”
A heavy contingent of Rangers soldiers later dispersed the protesters with the help of police officials and opened both tracks of Manghopir Road to resume vehicular movement. Police also detained some of the miscreants and took them to different police stations in Orangi Town Division to question them.
The wounded men were taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), from where one of them was rushed to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), but he succumbed to his injuries during treatment.
JPMC Executive Director Seemin Jamali said Ilyas Ali Haider was brought to the health facility with a head injury that proved fatal, adding that his heirs first took his body away without a post-mortem examination, but then brought it back at night.
DIGP Farooqi said that some PTI activists had arrived at the ASH while Haider was there, creating an impression that he was affiliated with their party, but his family claimed that he had no political affiliation.
Sindh police chief IGP AD Khowaja directed the West Zone DIGP to submit a detailed report on the demonstration after talking to the girl’s family to help arrest the miscreants involved in turning the protest violent.
IGP Khowaja appointed Karachi Administration DIGP Capt (retd) Asim Khan as the investigating officer to find out if the use of force by police was justified as well as who was responsible for the firing.
DIGP Khan said the investigation would take two to three days to complete, adding that the victim’s parents did not wish to participate in the protest, but they were forced to do so.
Condemning the rape and murder, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari asked the PPP-led Sindh government to take stern action against the culprits, adds our correspondent.
The PPP chief said the minor’s tormentors and killers would not be allowed to escape. He assured the victim’s family that the government would take all steps to provide justice to them.