Thursday June 20, 2024

Apathy or incompetence? Justice continues to elude ‘children of a lesser god’

By Ebad Ahmed
March 16, 2016


On the night of January 25, Faizur Rehman and his family were attending a wedding at Shehnai Marriage Hall situated in Orangi Town when their six year-old daughter, went missing. The family desperately searched for the girl everywhere. They registered a missing person’s complaint the next day after contacting the nearby mosques that kept making announcements, but all went in vain.

On January 31, their daughter’s body was found floating in the underground water tank of the very place where they had attended a wedding a week ago. Initial medical examination of the body revealed that the child had been tortured and raped.

Though all 19 employees of the wedding hall were rounded up and put behind bars after the incident made waves on television channels. However, so far, not a single one has been charged as the investigators wait for the “result” of DNA test.

Forty-five days and counting, torment continues unabated for Rehman and his family.

“We have lost everything. The only thing I want to now is justice... Justice for my daughter,” said Rehman, as his wife, sitting beside him, wiped her tears with trembling hands. “By the way the police is handling the case, we suspect they are intentionally putting unnecessary hurdles.”

According to Rehman, on February 17 the Investigation Officer of the case, SSP Akhtar Farooq, informed the family that DNA samples of suspects had been sent to Lahore to ascertain the identity of the rapist and killer, a claim also seconded by the Additional IG Mushtaq Ahmed Maher.

However, said Rehman, after a month of assurances that DNA samples had been sent to a private laboratory in Lahore, he was informed by SSP Farooq that the samples were yet to be dispatched due to some “unforeseen” reasons.

But when The News contacted SSP Akhtar Farooq, he claimed that the DNA samples had been sent.

“The National Institute of Health in Islamabad is shut down due to maintenance, so the samples have been sent to a private laboratory in Lahore,” he claimed.

When asked to share the dates on which they were sent, the SSP, however, claimed he failed to remember.

It usually takes about two weeks to obtain the DNA results, according to Dr Umair Haroon, a forensic expert and Karachi-based journalist. He said there have been precedents in the past where DNA results were also obtained in three to four days in cases that were considered to be high profile.

Liaquat Ali Khan, lawyer representing Rehman, alleged that the police had failed to conduct proper investigation since beginning the case.

 “The day when Rehman filed the missing person’s complaint, no one from the police bothered to check the wedding hall,” said the family’s lawyer. “The father had to take the IO SSP Akhtar Farooq to the crime scene himself.”

The lawyer claimed the police recorded statements of the girl’s family just to complete the formality and fill up files.

 “I fear the way this investigation is progressing, like many others, it is becoming eminent that the suspects who are now in jail on judicial custody, will secure their release through bail.”

However, said the lawyer, he was about to file a criminal division against the jail custody, that will call for reinvestigation of the accused. 

Had Rehman not come from a modest background, he remarked, the police might have taken this case a little more seriously. 

“Yes, we are poor, but does that mean we are children of a lesser god? Does it mean that our daughter deserved to die like that?” wailed the grieving mother, leaving what should be an indelible mark on the conscience of our authorities.