An eight-year-old girl from Chichawatni, who was burnt alive after allegedly being raped, breathed her last at a hospital in Lahore.
Residents of the area and the victim’s family members took to the streets to protest the gruesome murder. A complete strike was also observed in Chichawatni.
They raised slogans of “Zaalimon! khoon ka hisaab do” [“Oppressors! answer for the blood (of the child)”], as the girl’s body was carried for funeral prayers.
Carrying banners appealing for justice, the protesters demanded that the culprits behind the girl’s murder be hanged.
The second-grade student, a resident of Chichawatni area of Sahiwal, had gone missing on Sunday evening after she left home to buy some sweets.
When she did not return after a while, her family members and neighbours started looking for her and found her in a street in an unconscious state, with burns all over her body.
She was taken to Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital, from where she was referred to Jinnah Hospital in Lahore due to her critical condition. According to doctors, she had received 70 to 80 per cent burns. The girl died during treatment late on Monday night.
The body was handed over to the family after a post-mortem examination. The child was laid to rest at a graveyard in Chichawatni after the funeral prayers, which were attended by a large number of people.
Sahiwal District Police Officer Mohammad Atif Ikram told media that police had filed a case and took a suspect into custody. He said that a murder case has been filed whereas rape charges will be added after receiving the forensic report. He vowed to arrest the culprits as soon as possible.
The father of the victim demanded of the government to provide his family justice.
Amidst unrest in the community, civil society representatives and political figures visited the victim’s house and assured the affected family of their complete support.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken a notice of the murder.
Since the beginning of 2018, there has been a marked upsurge in the reporting of sexual abuse cases across Pakistan. The brutal rape and murder of Zainab Ansari in Kasur earlier this year in particular shocked the entire country, with #JusticeforZainab becoming the rallying cry in a nationwide drive to end violence against children.
An anti-terrorism court had sentenced convict Imran Ali to death on four counts in the Zainab murder case, while the Lahore High Court had dismissed his appeal against the trial court’s verdict.