Police investigation into the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 22-month-old girl in Pabbi, Nowshera, is mired in accusations of negligence, negative media attention and now possibly a family conspiracy.
According to police officials, their case was compromised by misleading autopsy reports from District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital as well as the family’s unwillingness to cooperate.
DSP Pabbi Circle Waqar Ahmad said they were misled by a DHQ hospital post-mortem report provided after the incident, which confirmed the girl was raped by three men.
“After wasting our time, they backtracked from their initial report,” Ahmad said, adding Dr Aqsa Faheem later submitted another report that states no sexual intercourse had taken place before the murder.
Sawera’s body was found on April 4 in a field near her house in Mohallah Khan Sher Garhi. Her parents said the girl left home to buy candy from a nearby shop and did not return.
Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, who had ordered expediency in investigation, visited Sawera’s family and offered Rs200,000 as compensation for their loss.
Ahmad said police have been successful in finding those responsible and have even identified a suspect. “It is someone from the family and the motive is believed to be revenge,” he said.
When police considered it a rape case, they collected DNA samples from neighbours and others in the area. Twenty DNA tests were sent to Islamabad but no match was found, the DSP said.
“Due to misinformation in the doctor’s initial report, every strategy we used, including DNA tests, sniffer dogs and a special committee of local elders, delivered inconclusive results,” he said.
Sawera’s family continuously blames police apathy and negligence in failing to apprehend those responsible for the heinous crime. The victim’s father had previously threatened self-immolation if the culprits were not caught.
Ahmad said the family has now rejected any help from the police.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2014.
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