The Supreme Court has given 72 hours to the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab to bring the investigation to its logical conclusion.
Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 from near her aunt’s house in Kasur. Her body was discovered five days later from a garbage pile. The post-mortem report revealed that Zainab had been raped and murdered.
A special bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing its suo motu notice of the brutal murder at its Lahore Registry on Sunday.
At the last hearing on Tuesday, the court had summoned the JIT probing the incident as well as the head of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency.
As the bench settled in, Pakistan Bar Vice Chairman Ahsan Bhoon said the parents of Zainab and seven other girls, all victims of child abuse, are en route for the hearing.
Chief Justice Nisar then remarked that they will begin proceedings once the parents are here. Later, the children’s parents, including Zainab’s paternal uncle, appeared in court.
As the hearing went under way, JIT head DIG Muhammad Idrees submitted a progress report and informed the court that Zainab’s was the eighth incident of child abuse in Kasur since June 2015.
Expressing displeasure, the chief justice remarked that the SHOs of the two police stations, in whose jurisdictions the incidents occurred for over two years, were not removed despite so many incidents.
The court observed that had the police been serious since 2015, so many cases would not have occurred.
The JIT head informed the bench further that on January 4, Zainab was going to her Khala’s [maternal aunt] house which was 300 metres away.
Dr Ashraf of the forensic agency said it is unclear from the CCTV footage if the girl in the video is indeed Zainab.
When the bench was informed of the 800 DNA tests conducted in the case and their awaiting results, the chief justice remarked that the police has other traditional methods of investigation as well other than waiting on DNA tests.
“The way the police are going, the entire 210 million people of Pakistan will have to take DNA tests,” the chief justice remarked.
The court also inquired into the treatment of Kainat, another victim of abuse in Kasur who is admitted to a hospital in Lahore. Addressing the medical superintendent of the hospital, the court remarked that if needed the young girl should be sent abroad for treatment.
Later, an in-camera hearing of the case was started on the request of the forensic agency’s head. The hearing was then adjourned.
Chief Justice Nisar had taken a suo motu notice of the case on January 10.
Another CCTV footage appears
A yet another closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the suspect in the Zainab rape-murder case surfaced Friday night, wherein he can be seen doing the rounds near the victim’s residence in Kasur.
Multiple CCTV videos of the girl being led away by the suspected man have emerged so far. However, in the latest footage, the suspect’s face is clearer as opposed to the previous clips.
In the new footage, the suspect — who remains at large — is seen walking down the street where the victim’s house is located at 7:12pm on January 4.
Police say they have been continuously conducting operations and arresting on a daily basis suspected individuals, who, once questioned and cleared, are let go.
Authorities, however, said they await the DNA report of four under-custody suspects.