KASUR: The murder and rape of an eight-year-old has sparked anger in a city that has already experienced this multiple times over the last year. Before the recent incident, there were ten other girls who went missing and were found days later, raped and strangled to death, according to a police report obtained by BBC.
The same DNA found on the victim was recovered from six other victims. All of them were young girls, who went missing near their homes and were found dumped.
The first case happened a year ago in January 2017. Five-year-old A* disappeared outside her home on January 7. It was her father’s birthday.
Speaking to BBC, he says he has still kept the white teddy bear she gave him that day.
“Anger is a very small word to describe how I feel,” he said.
“This is not a house – it’s a graveyard. Since the incident, it’s like we lost our daughter again. It was the same when I found out about each of the other girls.”
He says the family and city are traumatised. “People in the town are scared. The kids are scared to even go to the bathroom – they say to their mothers to wait outside – we won’t lock the door.”
“My other daughter didn’t speak for four months. There was a family wedding, she said she’s not coming because she might be kidnapped.”
Six-year-old Q* went missing in November after going to buy yoghurt from a shop near her house.
Speaking to BBC, her uncle, says her body was found dumped in a graveyard nearby. She was only just alive.
Q* is the only girl to have survived. She is currently hospitalised, unable to talk and completely paralysed from head down.
Q* appears to have been attacked by the same suspect. The uncle believes the suspect lives locally.
The recent murder has triggered an unprecedented level of outrage. One reason identified seems to be the way opposition politicians have used the incident to criticise the ruling party.
Q*s uncle told the BBC: “Z*’s family are rich and have political connections. All of the rest of us are poor. No politician came to see us. No one cares.”
The latest victim’s family are said to have links to senior opposition party figures. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif also visited her father, promising justice.
Social media also helped in building pressure as celebrities, sports stars and many others took to Twitter.
Local anger, however, can also be attributed to the accumulation of murders and the inability of the police in finding the killer.
Baba, a vegetable seller tells BBC that he doesn’t believe the police are interested in solving the crime.
“Two or three times they arrested people and brought them in front of us – saying these are the murderers. Even the men said: ‘We had killed her.’”
“But I didn’t believe them. I said the DNA is part of your investigation. Until there’s a match I won’t believe it. When the DNA report came out it was clear they were not the culprits.”
Baba says hundreds of people, including his friends and relatives were questioned by the police. One of his friends said police seemed more concerned with extracting bribes from them than finding the culprit.
However, a local police official told BBC there is a real sense of urgency now in finding the killer.
It is a sentiment shared by many. A worried local, standing among a crowd of children tells BBC, “We can’t let this happen to another girl.”