Pakistani officials say they will investigate allegations police carried out an unauthorised killing of a man wrongly accused of murdering a child.
Police charged Mudasir in February 2017 with killing five-year-old Iman Fatima. He tried to escape. However, a BBC Newsnight investigation has revealed allegations that Iman’s real killers are still at large. DNA testing suggests that Iman was killed by the same man who is suspected of murdering another child this month.
The rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Ansari earlier this month triggered indignation and protests across Pakistan. The police working on the investigation into Zainab’s murder found DNA traces similar to those found in seven other attacks on young girls in the same city. Of the seven attack victims, four – including Iman – were murdered.
So far, the police and Iman’s family have believed that their case has already been resolved – but their family now believes the true killer is still on the run while Mudasir was innocent.
‘Trying to escape’?
Iman Fatima had been playing outside on the street with her five-year-old cousin Adeel.
Adeel sat next to his father and told the BBC, “The kidnapper put me against the wall and took Iman Fatima away, he brought her upstairs, put her in a sack and took her away.”
Adeel’s recollection of the incident is sometimes vague and confused, but his family says after the kidnapping, despite his age, he identified the house his cousin had been taken to, and later the responsible man.
Iman Fatima with her mother
The suspect was 21-year-old Mudasir, a factory worker who moved to Kasur with his family two years ago.
What happened next is controversial. According to a police version, Mudasir was killed when he resisted arrest. Another senior police officer told the BBC that he had been detained where he stood, and then he was killed “on the run.”
But in an exclusive interview with the BBC, Mudasir’s family said they believed the police had killed him, even though he knew he was not the killer because they were unable to find the real culprit.
Human rights groups have criticized the police in Pakistan for conducting so-called “police raids” on the ground – out-of-court killings, which are then covered up as incidents where suspects resist arrest. Analysts believe that the police often use “encounter killings” due to the low conviction rate in Pakistani courts.
“They killed my son”
After the discovery of Iman Fatima’s body, the residents began to protest against the inaction of the authorities. A month earlier, in January 2017, Ayesha Asif, also a five-year-old girl, had been sexually abused and murdered.
Mudasir’s mother, Jamila Bibi, told the BBC, “I feel like I lost everything, they killed my son.”A few days later, the family moved out of Kasur. “Nobody in the neighborhood would talk to us,” Jamila Bibi added in tears.
Mudasir’s family says he was arrested the same evening when Iman Fatima was abducted and killed. They claim that they then went with the police to recover his body from a local hospital. Police officers in Kasur told the BBC that Mudasir had been identified as a suspect by the girl’s cousin Adeel.
Speaking to the BBC, a relative of Iman Fatima said the police called him to the police station to hear Mudasir that he had confessed to the murder. But the DNA evidence, which was examined as part of the investigation into the murder of Zainab, suggested that Mudasir was not the killer.
After Mudasir’s death in February 2017, four other young girls were attacked, including Zainab. Three of them died, one is still in the hospital. Traces of the same DNA were found on their bodies as by Iman Fatima.
When the Punjab spokesman Malik Ahmad Khan revealed the BBC’s allegations, he told the BBC that the provincial authorities were conducting a “full investigation” and those responsible for “extrajudicial killings” would not be spared. ” Iman Fatima’s father told the BBC, “I’m so worried – the real killer is still free and an innocent man was killed.” “I’m so mad at the police that I can not explain it, we want justice and we want the culprit caught.”