Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Farishta Mohmand: Pakistan in uproar over lax police response to child's murder

A child protection group recorded 92 murders of children in Pakistan last year

People rally to protest against the murder and alleged rape of a 10-year-old Farishta in Islamabad. EPA
People rally to protest against the murder and alleged rape of a 10-year-old Farishta in Islamabad. EPA

The kidnap and murder of a young girl in Pakistan has caused public uproar amid allegations that police initially refused to investigate her disappearance.

Hundreds of mourners, activists and relatives of 10-year-old Farishta Mohmand on Tuesday protested in the capital, Islamabad, demanding justice.

As the anger grew both in the capital and online, the local police chief was suspended and the minister of interior said he had taken notice of the case and had been asked to be kept informed of progress.

Farishta's body was found in woodland on Monday, five days after she went missing after going out to play one evening in her Shahzad Town neighbourhood.

Her family allege they reported the disappearance immediately, but then had to wait four days before the police would register a case. Supporters also allege that when the body was found, doctors refused to carry out a post mortem.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said: “The act alone is monstrous, but it reportedly took four days to lodge a First Information Report. Our system must be geared to protect vulnerable children.”

Farishta's family told reporters they had fled from Mohmand district in the tribal northwest to Islamabad to escape fighting between the army and Taliban. The alleged police mishandling of the case was immediately taken up by activists demanding better rights and security for the country's Pashtun people, who have endured the worst of the country's fight against the Taliban.

epa07590376 People rally to protest against the murder and alleged rape of a 10-year-old girl, Farishta, in Islamabad, in Peshawar, Pakistan, 21 May 2019. The 10-year old girl went missing on 16 May and her body was found on 20 May. EPA/ARSHAD ARBAB
The 10-year old girl went missing on 16 May and her body was found on 20 May. EPA

Farishta's brother, Fahim Nabi, told Radio Mashaal that police only lodged their complaint after the family lobbied politicians, lawyers and journalists.

“We demand justice. Aren’t we humans and citizens of this country?” he said.

Nisar Mohmand, a politician from Mohmand, said: “This is a major atrocity, and we demand justice. 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.”

By Tuesday evening, police said they had arrested two suspects.

A similar murder in 2018 also caused widespread anger in Pakistan. Six-year-old Zainab Ansari disappeared in early January and her body was found on a rubbish dump five days later. It was later disclosed there had been a string of child killings in the same city of Kasur, in Punjab.

In that case too, police were accused of not taking action for days after the victim's disappearance. Relatives, not police, recovered CCTV footage of her last movements. Zainab's death triggered angry protests, which saw two people killed in clashes.

Police eventually arrested a suspect, Imran Ali based on DNA evidence. It later turned out he was a serial killer and was convicted of six other murders of young girls. He was hanged in October.

Sahil, a child protection group in Pakistan said that in 2018 it had recorded more than 3,800 child abuse cases in Pakistan, including 92 murders.

Updated: May 22, 2019 10:12 AM

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