LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif confirmed that the arrested accused, Imran, is the murderer of seven-year-old Zainab and referred to him as a “serial killer”.
“Zainab’s murderer has been caught. His name is Mohammad Imran. He is a 24-year-old resident of Kasur…he is a serial killer,” Shehbaz told a press conference.
The chief minister was accompanied by the victim’s father and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah at the press conference in Lahore.
“He [Imran] admitted to all his crimes in a polygraph test that was conducted after his DNA matched the samples,” said the chief minister.
“Government officials constantly struggled,” he said. “These combined efforts bore fruit and got the killer arrested.”
Shehbaz congratulated Punjab’s cabinet committee, Law Minister Sanaullah, IGP Punjab, additional chief secretary home, chief secretary, and other intelligence officials including Military Intelligence (MI) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
“I am most thankful to DG Forensic Lab who profiled 1,150 DNAs to find the killer.”
Elaborating on the DNA profiling and subsequent match with Imran, Shehbaz said he was informed about the procedure last night.
“I requested them [officials] to not discuss it,” he said. “I visited [the lab] next day after morning prayers and had it done in front of me and it was a 100 percent match.”
He further said that the entire nation, including Zainab’s parents, had prayed due to which such results were achieved.
“I promised Zainab’s parents that my team and I will do everything in our power to catch the culprit and we delivered within 14 days.”
Shehbaz further said that the case will be prosecuted in an anti-terrorism court (ATC), and assured that all legal formalities will be completed.
“Zainab’s father wants the man to be publicly hanged but the court will decide the future course of this case,” he said.
Shehbaz also requested the chief justice of the Lahore High Court to ensure that the hearing of the case to is heard day and night, without any delay.
“Even if we have to amend the laws we should do so; the way Zainab was crushed like a flower, the law should crush the killer in the same manner.”
Satisfied with case proceedings, says Zainab’s father
The victim’s father expressed his contentment with the proceedings of the case in the press conference.
He said the joint efforts of government officials had helped in catching the criminal who had murdered his daughter.
“I thank DIG ISI, MI, CTD, other agencies, and the forensic lab for their combined efforts and all my acquaintances for their help,” said Zainab’s father.
“He [Imran] was traced after combined efforts. I was in Saudia Arabia when I came to know that my daughter was missing,” he said. “When I came to Pakistan, I appealed to the chief of army staff and Chief Justice of Pakistan.”
“I had reservations regarding the case’s proceedings earlier, but the joint investigation team (JIT) worked [and delivered results], and I am thankful to the people involved.”
Police in Kasur had, earlier today, claimed to have arrested the man responsible for the heinous rape and murder of Zainab.
The accused’s DNA also matches the samples taken from seven other minor girls who were abused and murdered earlier in the area.
Zainab’s rape, murder case
Zainab was kidnapped from near her aunt’s house on January 4 in Kasur. Her body was recovered from a garbage heap on January 9. The post-mortem of the minor revealed that she had been raped before being murdered.
The accused Imran, said to be 24-years-old, was familiar with Zainab’s family and would also frequent the minor girl’s house, police official told media.
Imran is also said to be a relative of the deceased and a resident of Kot Road where the young Zainab also resided. However, Zainab’s father has refuted claims that the suspect is related to them.
Imran was picked up initially by the police but was let go without testing his DNA after the family intervened and identified him as someone familiar and trusted.
After being let go Imran had fled from Kasur and for a short while was residing in Pakpattan.
On the orders of the District Police Officer (DPO), certain individuals were rounded-up again including Imran and their DNA tests were conducted.
The suspect was picked up five days earlier and interrogated which further confirmed that Imran was, in fact, the perpetrator of the crime.
According to police sources, Imran has also confessed to his crime.
Additionally, sources claim that Imran had shaved his beard after the incident which helped him evade arrest till now as the CCTV footage showed a man sporting a beard.
Punjab government spokesperson Malik Ahmed Khan had earlier confirmed that the suspect Imran had been arrested from near Pakpattan.
“He (Imran) was among the 600 people whose DNA tests had been conducted,” the spokesperson added.
The spokesperson further said that circumstantial evidence pointed towards Imran’s involvement in the case. “The suspect is currently under interrogation.”
A JIT was formed by the Punjab government following the brutal rape and murder of Zainab.
Multan Regional Police Officer DIG Muhammad Idrees was appointed the head of the JIT after Zainab’s father had objected to the previous JIT head.
Appearing before the Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry on Sunday, DIG Idrees submitted a progress report and informed the court that Zainab’s was the eighth incident of child abuse in Kasur since June 2015.
The court then gave the JIT 72 hours to present substantial progress in the probe.
Killer should be given exemplary punishment, say siblings
Zainab’s sister Laiba spoke to media, where she said that if Imran is the real murderer then he should be publicly hanged. The sister said that the suspect should be given an exemplary punishment.
“He said he used to get possessed by djinns, if that was the case then he should be given a befitting punishment to be exorcised,” said the sister.
Zainab’s brother, Abu Bakar said that the suspect should be given an exemplary sentence so that others like him get a message.
People started to arrive at Zainab’s home, eagerly awaiting to know if the said killer was also involved in the murder of other children.
According to neighbours, Imran did not have any proper profession and used to claim that he would get possessed at times.
Police contingents were deployed outside the residence of Zainab, while Imran’s residence was also guarded in order to save it from incited mobs.
The neighbours had handed over Imran after Zainab’s body was recovered, however, he was released from custody when his condition deteriorated.
The polygraphic test of the suspect was completed, while the report was forwarded to Chief Minister Punjab. Police said that the test also proved that the suspect was involved in the crime.