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Kasur in a grip of Protesters after murder of Zianab

12 January, 2018

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KASUR: Protests erupted in Kasur a day earlier against the alleged police inaction following the rape and murder of a six-year-old child, a charged mob on Thursday broke into the homes of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers, MPA Naeem Safdar Ansari and MNA Waseem Akhtar, and ransacked rooms and burned cars, and set the latter’s outhouse ablaze.

Even though the protests began early in the morning at around 7am, the violence escalated shortly after the funeral prayers for two protesters, Muhammad Ali and Shoaib, who were killed by police gunfire the day before. Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi led the funeral prayers.

The protesters then returned to Shahbaz Khan Road and Steel Bagh Mor on Ferozepur Road and stepped up the agitation. As one highly charged mob made its way to MPA Ansari’s house, a police contingent attempted to control the situation by using tear-gas shells to disperse the mob. However, the protesters threw stones and bricks at the policemen, forcing them to retreat to Kashmir Chowk, around half a kilometre away from the MPA’s house.

Finding the police occupied elsewhere, the protesters broke into the outhouse of Mr Akhtar and dragged the furniture out on the street and set it ablaze. They then entered the premises and set fire to the building. The fire spread to neighbouring shops. Rescue-1122 official Muhammad Akbar said that the protesters did not allow fire fighters to extinguish the fire at the outhouse.

Rescue-1122 services remained suspended between 12pm and 9pm as most roads were blocked. The department had to excuse 12 emergency calls because of that.

Earlier in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the grieving family in Kasur between 4:20am and 4:30am, during which he offered Fateha for the departed soul.

Two hours prior to his arrival in Kasur (at around 2am), Punjab government spokesperson Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan, MPA Malik Ahmed Saeed, MNAs of the Ansari biradari, including Usman Ibrahim of Gujranwala and Akram Ansari of Faisalabad, visited Zainab’s family and placated them, before giving the CM a green signal to visit Kasur.

The Punjab cabinet on Thursday announced Rs10 million cash prize for anyone who could provide information that could lead the police to the man who had killed Zainab. The cabinet also decided to give Rs3m to the families of the two protesters killed by the police. They decided that a member of each family would be offered a government job.

On Thursday, all markets, schools, banks, pharmacies and the district bar remained on strike.

While the city’s traders had earlier announced that they would observe a complete shutter-down strike on Friday, Lahore commissioner Abdullah Sumbal, Rangers Brigadier Muhammad Asim, Sheikhupura RPO Zulifqar Hameed, Kasur DC Saira Omar, DBA president Malik Riaz Ahmed and other members of the peace committee met the traders and convinced them not to strike. They assured the traders that Rangers and the police would protect the lives and properties of traders.

A group of protesters near the DHQ Hospital stormed its premises after medical officers handed over the bodies of the two protesters over to their families after conducting an autopsy.

The enraged mob ransacked the emergency ward while hospital staffers locked the doors from inside. There was no police in sight; however, attendants at the hospital managed to convince the protesters to take their agitation outside the hospital premises.

Talking to the media, Zainab’s father Muhammad Amin, an ardent supporter of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s Dr Tahirul Qadri, urged people to hold a peaceful protest and to not damage public or private property.

However, he expressed dissatisfaction with the nomination of the police officer heading the joint investigation team (JIT) and requested that he be replaced.

By Thursday night, the district administration imposed Section 144 in the city, outlawing the assembly of more than five people. Rangers and police took control of the city and started patrolling. They arrested 45 protesters and took them to an undisclosed location.

District Headquarters Hospital (DHQ) Medico Legal Officer Dr Quratulain Attique told reporters on Thursday that the child’s post-mortem examination revealed that she had died from strangulation.

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