Riots broke out in Pakistan’s Kasur district in Punjab province on Wednesday as residents took to the streets to demand strict punishment for the culprits who allegedly raped and murdered an eight-year-old girl. Two people were killed in the riots as protestors attacked the deputy commissioner’s office with sticks and stones.
The girl is believed to have been abducted on January 4 when she was on her way to a tuition centre near her house, Dawn reported. Her parents were in Saudi Arabia for Haj at the time of the incident. Her body was recovered from a heap of trash on Tuesday and sent to the District Headquarters Hospital for an autopsy.
A first information report was registered on January 5, a day after the girl went missing. On Tuesday, the police added murder charges to the FIR after the body was recovered.
On Wednesday, the protestors vandalised public property and cars in the area. Traders shut their shop and staged a demonstration, according to Dawn. Protestors shouted slogans against the police and local parliamentarians.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah appealed to the protestors to remain calm. “People need to keep their emotions in check and not aggravate the situation,” he said, according to Dawn.
The law minister said the culprits would be arrested within the next eight to 10 hours. He also suggested that the perpetrator seemed to be an acquaintance of the family.
Political leaders and celebrities demand justice
Several Pakistani political leaders, sports and film personalities took to social media to condemn the incident and demanded justice for the girl.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he will not rest until the culprits are brought to justice. “Deeply pained about murder of a 8-year old girl in a child molestation case,” he said on Twitter. “Those societies that cannot protect its children are eternally condemned...Just presided over a meeting of police and administration officials. Made it absolutely clear to them that lip service would not work. I want the culprits involved in this heinous crime behind the bars. Those failing in their duties will be proceeded against.”
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz called for an exemplary punishment for the perpetrators. Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari criticised the provincial government. “Ten incidents of minors’ rape and murders had been reported in Kasur and 11 in Sheikhupura alone last year ,” he said, according to Geo News. “It seems some parts of Punjab have been turned into hell for the children, especially the girls but Sharif brothers appear to have abandoned their duty as rulers.”