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Orangi rape case: Shoddy investigation delays quest for justice

Orangi rape case: Shoddy investigation delays quest for justice

KARACHI: Faiz Rehman`s eyes were soaked with tears. With his trembling hands he pointed towards the pictures of her deceased daughter, framed on the walls of his house situated in one of the relatively better settlements of Orangi Town.

“She is gone. Nothing can bring her back. But as a father is it unfair for me to ask for swift justice against those who mercilessly raped and killed my six-year-old daughter,” he questioned.

On January 25, Rehman and his family were attending a wedding at the Shehnai Marriage Hall in Orangi Town when their daughter went missing. The family registered a missing person’s complaint the next day, contacted the nearby mosques to regularly make announcements, but all their efforts went in vain.

On January 31, their daughter’s body was found floating in the underground water tank of the wedding hall. Initial medical examination of the body revealed that the child had been tortured and raped.

Even after the tragic loss of their daughter, the test for the Faiz family is not over as even after seven months, not a single charge has been framed against the 19 employees of the wedding hall who were put behind bars after the incident made waves on television channels.

“We can’t present charges in the court until we receive the DNA reports,” said the investigation officer of the case, SP Akhtar Farooq, while talking to The Express Tribune.

Mismanaged inquiry

An investigation into the case reveals a series of lapses on part of the investigators.

In a meeting on March 18, headed by Crime Investigation Agency DIG, the victim’s parents were informed that the chemical examination of their child’s clothes sent to a private laboratory in Lahore found no evidence of rape – the observation completely contradicted the first chemical tests held in Karachi`s Sindh Government Services Hospital.

A six-member medical board was then formed to look into the contrasting chemical reports. According to its findings, which were relayed to Faiz, the victim’s piece of clothing which had blood marks was at the services hospital – the police had sent the wrong piece of clothing for examination.

On April 27, in a letter to the investigation officer, the medical board recommended the authorities to revisit the chemical examination on the original fabric at a forensic lab in Islamabad.

Ironically, the mismanagement was not only limited to the chemical examinations, as on August 11 this year, the investigation officer informed the city court that one of the tubes with blood samples of the accused was found broken by laboratory staffers in Islamabad and the DNA test cannot be completed until the cross-matching of the samples take place, for which all the samples must be present.

“We are now going to send a letter to the additional district judge (West), asking permission for the medical examination of one of the accused in a week,” informed SP Farooq.

‘Helpless’

According to Rehman, he has been approached by the wedding hall staffers for an out-of-court settlement.

“They know that I am poor and they want to take advantage of it but as long as I have my wife with me, I will fight for justice for my daughter till my last breath,” he said, adding that, “My biggest fear is that due to the incompetence of state institutions, the accused may go scot-free.”

The Express Tribune

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