A 10-year-old domestic helper was allegedly beaten to death on Thursday night by her employers who accused her of theft.
Iram worked at the home of Altaf Mehmood, his wife Nasira Altaf and their two children in the city’s Askari Nine neighbourhood.
She was taken to Services Hospital by Mehmood and his wife in a critical condition but died en route to the hospital. Police said the girl’s body bore marks of physical abuse, but the exact cause of death would be determined following an autopsy report. Iram’s hands and feet had rope marks on them, as she was allegedly tied by the family and beaten with a plastic pipe. Doctors at the hospital told The Express Tribune that they have yet to determine if she was sexually assaulted as well. The body was transferred to Mayo Hospital and then handed to the girl’s family following medico-legal formalities.
Iram, a resident of Okara, was hired by Altaf Mehmood, a shoe trader, as a domestic helper and received a monthly pay of Rs2,500. SP Cantt division Umar Riaz Cheema told The Express Tribune that Mehmood’s wife, Nasira, confessed to killing the girl, saying she beat her because she believed Iram had stolen Rs30,000 from the family. The couple and their son, Abrar, were taken into custody by the police and legal action was initiated under sections 302 (murder) and 34 (constructive criminality, liability of all for acts done by one or more) while their daughter was asked to aid the investigation, according to SP Cheema.
SP Umar Riaz said the family stated during interrogation that Nasira was not mentally stable and had therefore acted in such a manner. He indicated that the family may have invented the claim to avoid murder charges, adding that police will submit a challan of the case as soon as possible, following Nasira’s confession. Even in instances of mental instability, it is the responsibility of another adult (in this case Altaf Mehmood] to see that any life threatening incident does not occur, Riaz said.
The challan will hold Mehmood equally culpable for the crime his wife committed, he explained. It would be difficult to attribute responsibility to each family member according to his or her participation in the crime, Riaz said, and all family members may be held equally liable for the criminal act, under Section 34.
Iram’s widowed mother, Zubaida, told police she had arrived in Lahore from Okara on Thursday, accompanied by her son, and learned of the accusation of theft. She added that she had not been allowed to meet her daughter. Iram is the eldest of five siblings. SP Cheema said the family is provided with security and have been advised to contact the police if they faced intimidation by anyone with regards to the case.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2014.