Grief, fear and anger have enveloped Chunian, a town located in the district of Kasur, south of the city of Lahore in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, after the bodies of three missing children were found.
Kasur has seen numerous cases of child abuse and abductions in recent years.
Police said on Sept. 23 they had made twenty arrests as they investigated the suspected murders and sexual assault of the boys. The body of Muhammad Faizan had been found the previous week, a day after he went missing.
Faizan, 8, had failed to return home with his brother when the two went to nearby shops to buy snacks. His body and the remains of two more boys were later found on a deserted section of an industrial estate.
“I got my child from Allah after years of prayers and supplications. And this brute did not allow me to see the happiness of my child. Oh cruel creature. Allah had given me a child after eight years—I was given the blessing of having a son after eight years,” Faizan’s mother, Amtal Salam, said. The family home overlooks the grave of her young son.
“I nurtured my child for eight years. Now was the time to enjoy my child. The monster! The infidel. The animal brutalized my child. I cannot bear this. I want justice.”
Local media reported three other children from the area have been missing since the middle of the year and another child had disappeared late last week after the bodies were found.
Videos of hundreds of local children being sexually assaulted were caught circulating in 2015, which a senior child protection official at the time called the largest child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history.
Last year, the body of a 7-year-old girl was found in a garbage dumpster, which police said was the twelfth incident of a girl being abducted, raped and killed in the district in a year, and sparked violent protests. A man was convicted of the murder and executed.
Hundreds more protested outside a police station in Kasur last week outraged over the boys’ deaths, blocking off streets and damaging shops.
Families in the area are fearful of the welfare and safety of their children.
“Now the children are afraid to go to the mosques, they are afraid to go to school. Announcements have been made that parents should escort their children to school,” said Shehnaz Bibi, a housewife from a neighbouring village.
Police are continuing to investigate the suspected murders and disappearances and are also looking into the possibility of a serial killer.
Pakistani President Imran Khan said on Twitter that, “There will be accountability for all. Those who do not perform in the interest of the common man will be taken to task.”
2) SP investigation Kasur surrendered, charge sheeted and being proceeded against.
3) DSP and SHO suspended.
4) Major overhaul in Kasur local police on the cards.
5) Formal probe ordered under Addl IG.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 18, 2019
He said there is to be a formal probe and potentially a serious overhaul of the Kasur local police following the removal of Kasur district police officer Abdul Ghaffar Qaisrani and suspension of the police superintendent, as well as other officers. Khan has appointed Zahid Nawaz Marwat as new district officer. Marwat played a key role in investigating and bringing to conclusion another rape-murder case in the past.
NTD staff contributed to this report.