The alleged kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 10-year-old girl in the Pakistani capital has prompted protests and online outrage.
Hundreds of mourners, including family members and activists, protested on a busy Islamabad square before burying the victim on May 21. Police in the city say they are investigating the case and have already made some arrests.
Nabi Gul says his daughter Farishta disappeared after going out to play near their house in Islamabad on the evening of May 15.
The victim’s elder brother Fahim Nabi told Radio Mashaal that police initially refused to register their complaint about her disappearance and only lodged it on May 19 after the family approached politicians, lawyers, and journalists.
He says his sister’s mutilated body was found late on May 20. “We demand justice. Aren’t we humans and citizens of this country?” he said.
Gul says the government must track down the culprits. “Farishta’s killing is part of the ongoing atrocities in this country, and the state is responsible for bringing the perpetrators to justice,” he said.
Activists and politicians have called for a judicial probe into the case as #JusticeForFarishta remained a top Twitter trend in Pakistan.
Nisar Mohmand, a politician from the northwestern district of Mohmand, says that like millions of fellow Pashtuns in Pakistan, the victim’s family had been forced to flee their home region for the relative safety of Islamabad a few years ago.
“This is a major atrocity, and we demand justice,” he told Radio Mashaal. “We want to ask the state that we endured displacement for this country, but now our mutilated bodies are being handed over to us in this manner and even hospitals are reluctant to carry out autopsies of our victims.”
Mohmand was referring to an apparent delay in Farishta’s postmortem in a government hospital in Islamabad late on May 20.
The delay also prompted a protest by activists late on May 20. Members of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a civil rights movement demanding security and rights for Pakistan’s Pashtun minority, staged a sit-in in front of Islamabad’s Polyclinic hospital to demand doctors conduct a swift autopsy.
PTM leaders and activists are demanding that a judicial commission look into the incident and the government suspend and investigate the staff of the Shahzad Town police station, which is responsible for overlooking the Islamabad neighborhood where Farishta was kidnapped.
“If the authority of the state is so weak in its capital -- if we can’t find any justice in Islamabad -- just imagine what is happening in the far-flung corners of this country,” PTM lawmaker Mohsin Dawar told protesters.
But the police in Islamabad say they have made some headway with the case, which is now being investigated by a senior official.
“God willing the perpetrators will not be spared,” Islamabad Police wrote on Twitter. “We have arrested some suspects and have registered the case. The autopsy has been carried out.”
The police said they have suspended the officer in charge of Shahzad Town’s police station. “We have launched an inquiry against him,” the police said, without naming the official.
Pakistani media reports suggest the country’s interior minister, Ijaz Shah, has asked Islamabad police to brief him on the case.
According to Sahil, a nongovernmental organization advocating child rights, every year thousands of children are sexually assaulted across Pakistan. But the group says most perpetrators escape the law due to social and legal complications.
After his appeal was rejected, an accused pedophile and killer of eight children was executed in October in Pakistan. Mohammad Imran was arrested, tried, and ultimately hanged after the rape and murder of 6-year-old Zainab Ansari in Kasur, a city in the eastern province of Punjab, prompted a global outcry in January 2018.