April 22, 2022

By Rehan Piracha


LAHORE

For the Kazim family, each day has been full of dread and terror, since 14-year-old Dua Zehra, their daughter and sister went mysteriously missing. Even seven days later there are no clues to her whereabouts, says the girl’s uncle while speaking to Voicepk on Friday.

The strange incident took place in Karachi’s Al Falah Town, on April 16, after the teenager came down from her first-floor apartment to dump some garbage bags.

“The only one who saw her, was another teenager in the same neighbourhood who corroborated seeing the girl drop two garbage bags outside the apartment building,” says Syed Haider Kazim, the girl’s maternal uncle speaking via phone call. The boy has recorded his statement with the police several times, he said.

Haider Kazim said that the police and Rangers personnel launched a massive search but have still not found any clue to Zahra’s whereabouts. The girl’s father, Ali Kazim, has also recently appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to take notice of Zahra’s disappearance. But Haider Kazim said the family has not been approached by any officials from either of the institutions even after their appeal for help.

Mosques refused to make announcements

In a shocking revelation though, Ali Kazim disclosed that the family faced discrimination when mosques in their localities refused to make announcements regarding her missing daughter.

“I went to the mosques in my locality on the of Zahra’s disappearance but they (mosque administrators) told me we don’t do announcements for such names,” revealed Ali Kazim in a TV interview. Ali Kazim belongs to the Shia Muslim community.

According to the family, closed-circuit cameras installed in nearby buildings on the day have suspiciously come up blank at the time of her afternoon disappearance.

“One of the neighbourhood CCTV cameras has no recording on the day while two other cameras installed in the street also do not show Zahra leaving the building,” Ali Kazim told reporters. In an interview, the girl’s father claimed that neighbours who had the CCTV cameras did not allow him access to the footage for four days.

Ali Kazim said Zehra went missing when she went down the apartment building to throw garbage bags.

“My wife woke me up in the afternoon that she could not find Zahra in the apartment,” Kazim said, adding that he thought she might have gone to the house of her maternal grandmother opposite their apartment building. “I visited my in-law’s house as well as checked all shops if Zahra had turned up there but found no clue,” Ali Kazim added.

The girl’s father said he filed a first information report on Zahra’s disappearance with the AlFalah Town police station on April 16. The police investigation was slow-paced but gathered steam when the girl’s father appealed for help in a video that went viral on social media.

Ali Kazim said the Sindh police chief has called and assured the family of using all available resources to locate the missing girl. The girl’s uncle said the family had no help either from their public appeal for locating Zahra.

Following Zahra’s disappearance, a police official initially claimed that the missing girl had boarded a passenger pickup van based on a video from a neighbourhood CCTV camera. In the CCTV footage, a young girl was seen boarding a pickup van which was wrongly assumed to be Dua Zahra. Haider Kazim said the girl in the CCTV video was a neighbour who was going to her office on the night shift.

Startlingly, however, as the police conducted a raid in Sanghar district they recovered another girl detained against her will.

Clarifying certain fake posts, the girl’s father said her daughter was a mentally and physically stable child. He said Zahra had not even been going to school for the last year and a half because of the COVID pandemic, adding that she was the eldest of his three daughters. In a television show, Zahra’s mother appealed to authorities to help recover her daughter alive and well, and said she would not be able to see her daughter like ‘another Zainab’, referring to Zainab Ansari who was raped and murdered in Kasur in 2018.

MOVING SOCIAL MEDIA 

In separate interview appearances, Dua’s father had said that he tried his best to make the issue viral on social media so that government authorities would respond. He said that after his video on social media, the police responded better. Currently, the hashtag #DuaZehra has been trending on top for a couple of days while celebrities are tweeting messages for the girl’s safe and early recovery.

There are no official figures on the disappearance and abductions of minors in the country. But in January, the Supreme Court was informed that the Punjab police was yet to trace the cases of 300 missing and abducted children in the province. The apex court was hearing a petition for the recovery of Sobia Batool, a girl missing from her hometown of Sargodha since 2021. In a hearing of the girl’s case in February, police informed the court that they had recovered 151 girls abducted from the Sargodha district alone but had failed to find Batool.

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