LAHORE: Just a day before the expiry of the Supreme Court’s three-day deadline, the Punjab Police on Tuesday arrested the man, who allegedly abducted, raped and murdered a eight-year-old child in Kasur.
“The brute has been arrested. He is a serial killer,” Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced in a press conference at the CM Secretariat Lahore. Sitting alongside him was Zainab Ansari’s father.
Zainab went missing on January 4 and her dead body was found on a pile of garbage on January 9. The brutal rape and murder had triggered angry protests in which two men were killed by police firing. Later, the SC had taken notice of the incident and on Sunday gave the police 72 hours to find any suspects.
“The suspect has been arrested after 14-day joint efforts by the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA), the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), CTD [Counter Terrorism Authority], civil and military agencies, political leadership and civil administration.
“It is for the second time in my political career that a concerted effort by different law enforcement agencies and departments has resulted in the arrest of a suspect,” he added.
Shehbaz said the forensic agency had prepared over 1,150 DNA profiles of suspects. “These samples led to the identification of the prime suspects as his sample also matched with the DNA samples collected from Zainab and other victims,” he added.
Shehbaz said the PFSA director general told him on Monday night that the DNA test of the suspect matched. “I, however, instructed him not to share this with anyone else. I will personally go to confirm the DNA test,” he added.
According to officials, the suspect, identified as Imran Ali, 24, is a neighbour of the victim.
“The suspect lives close to the victim’s house and works as a mason. He had been arrested from Pakpattan two days ago. He was also included in earlier investigations but was released after a brief interrogation and with being asked for a DNA sample,” Sheikhupura Regional Police Officer DIG Zulfiqar Hameed told a private news channel.
Hameed, who was a member of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed after the incident, said that after the suspect was interrogated again and his DNA sample was taken, it was found to match the samples found on Zainab’s body. “A polygraph test was also conducted, and it corroborated the DNA test,” he added.
The policeman said the suspected was released after collection of samples, but the police kept him under observation. “We later received information that the suspect suddenly shaved his beard and had moved to Pakpattan. This change in attire and displacement alerted us and we started digging for more details about him,” he added.
The JIT member said the suspect fit the typical profile of a serial killer, adding that the serial killers are a notoriously difficult to catch worldwide.
“He has acted alone since June 2015 with gaps of a few months each time. Details of the other cases also corroborated with his profile and methods.”
The police have been after him since the first case appeared, he said, adding that CCTV cameras were also installed throughout Kasur to arrest him and that these were the same cameras that eventually caught images of him kidnapping Zainab.
Shehbaz demands public hanging
In his press briefing, Punjab CM expressed a desire to see the suspect hanged in public. “There is no harm in it. Even if there is a need to amend the law, this amendment should be done,” he said.
The CM said that after the arrest of the suspect, the first phase of the case had been completed. “A committee will now be formed to facilitate proceeding of the second phase, meaning the prosecution of the case.”
Shehbaz appealed to Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to ensure the case is heard at a fast pace. “Proceedings should be done day and night,” he said, adding that such cases should not be politicised as these are very sensitive.
Referring to the murder of a minor girl Asma in Mardan, he said he has offered the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government Punjab’s full support and help in solving the case. “She was a daughter of Pakistan and we are equally grieved by her brutal death. I also offer [Sindh any necessary] help in the Naqeebullah Mehsud case,” he added.