PESHAWAR: The police have arrested the alleged killer of four-year-old Asma belonging to Gujjar Garhi village in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Inspector General of Police said here on Wednesday.
Muhammad Nabi, the 15-year-old relative of Asma who worked as daily wager at a restaurant, was arrested after his DNA matched the samples collected from the spot. He had strangled the minor girl to death.
Another person who was approached by the killer for help has also been arrested. “Despite a number of hurdles and pressures, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police worked out the case within 25 days,” Inspector General of Police Salahuddin Khan Mahsud told a press conference at the Central Police Office.
He added the police worked on the case round the clock. “It was a blind case as there was neither any closed-circuit television camera footage nor any other evidence at the crime scene, which is a large farming area. The Police worked out the case through a stain of blood found from the spot on a sugarcane leaf which was sent to the forensic laboratory for tests,” Salahuddin Mahsud explained.
Salahuddin maintained that the performance of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police has improved proved by the significant decline in the terror incidents, murders, attempted murders, kidnappings and other crimes.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief thanked the family of late Asma for reposing confidence in the police. He said the family of the late medical student Asma Rani belonging to Kohat has also expressed satisfaction with the performance of the police. He said two accused have been arrested in the murder case of Asma Rani.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Mardan Range, Muhammad Alam Shinwari told reporters that the killer took Asma to the fields when she asked for sugarcane on January 13. He added the boy attempted to sexually assault the four-year-old girl and strangled her when she cried. “He then put his hand on her mouth when she didn’t die despite being strangled and suffocated her to death,” the official added.
DIG Muhammad Alam Shinwari said the killer lived nearby and worked as daily wager in a restaurant, but was at home on the day of the incident. He pointed out that during the entire episode the killer remained in the village and even visited the crime scene many times along with the police.
The police said the killer had shared the plan of killing Asma with one of his friends probably in a bid to seek his help. The police have also taken the friend into custody who is being investigated. Officials said the killer who happened to be second cousin of Asma has confessed to his crime.
Punjab provincial minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday told reporters that the samples sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency in Lahore matched the DNA of one of the locals. He said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police was informed and the report was sent to it.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police had sent the samples of around 145 people to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency in Lahore for DNA profiling as the local laboratories and the Forensic Science Laboratory recently set up in Peshawar didn’t have the required facility.
Asma went missing in Gujjar Garhi in Mardan district. Her body was recovered the next day from the nearby sugarcane field. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police rejected sexual assault on the child since day one. It claimed there is no proof of sexual violence on her body. However, the Punjab Forensic Science Agency confirmed that she was sexually abused. The IGP maintained that the accused had unsuccessfully tried to rape her and then strangled her to death.
The incident was highlighted after the Mardan District Nazim Himayatullah Mayar contradicted the statement of the police and claimed she was sexually assaulted. He staged a rally to protest the failure of the police to arrest the culprits for many days.
Later, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf workers and villagers in Gujjar Garhi also staged protest rallies against the district nazim, alleging he was politicising the issue for political point-scoring.
There were reports on late Wednesday that someone had attacked the house of Asma after the arrest of the accused. However, the police clarified that it was a clash between a local and a nearby shopkeeper and it had nothing to do with the family of Asma.
Following this incident, the accused Waheed was arrested, an official said. The police said there were three guards already deployed at the residence of Asma for security. Meanwhile, the accused was produced before an Anti-Terrorism Court in Mardan later on Wednesday. The court remanded him to police custody for 10 days.