August 15th, 2021
By Asra Haque
Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Justice Amir Farooq on Wednesday, August 11, reprimanded the police for a two-year-long delay in building a strong enough case to help convict the rapist and murderer of 10-year-old Farishta. The judge has ordered for the immediate implementation of the recommendations of the judicial inquiry committee in the case.
The Investigating Officer (IO) told the court that they were unable to close the case despite the passage of two years as they were yet to record the statement of the remaining witness in the case due to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. He also stated that the Station House Officer (SHO) was responsible for the case, a remark which drew the ire of Justice Farooq.
The plaintiff in the case asserted that Farishta was the victim of a ‘serial killer’. Drawing parallels with the Noor Mukadam case, the plaintiff’s counsel argued that like Zahir Jaffer, Farishta’s murderer also had a criminal past. The main accused in the Farishta case had been nominated in two FIRs in 2006 and 2017, both of which involved an attempt to sexually assault underage girls.
On May 15, 2019, Farishta had gone out of the house to play – her house was located near the Alipur Bank Stop area of Shahzad Town, Islamabad. Farishta was meant to return before iftaar but did not come. After hours of searching in vain, her family approached the Shahzad Town police station fearing she had been abducted. Police however refused to file a first information report (FIR).
Farishta’s father Gul Nabi, who hails from the Mohmand tribal district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told media that he had visited the Shahzad Town police station several times to lodge a report. He alleged that he was mistreated instead, with police sending him off on errands or forcing him to clean the station. He further claimed that the Station House Officer (SHO) Muhammad Abbas Rana and Investigating Officer (IO) accused his minor daughter of eloping.
A case was finally registered four days after her kidnapping after Farishta’s family staged a protest outside the Shahzad Town police station, and after a politician alerted the Inspector General of Islamabad Police to the situation. A day later, on May 20, 2020, Farishta’s severely decomposed body was discovered in some bushes in Tamma, in the jurisdiction of the Shahzad Town police.
The girl’s family placed the deceased girl’s body at Taramri Chowk in protest against police negligence, with protesters stating that Farishta could have been saved had a case been registered and a formal investigation launched as soon as she was reported missing. A case was registered against the Shahzad Town SHO and his subordinates for negligence.
SHO Rana however claimed that the Shahzad Town police had taken statements from the victim’s family on May 16, 2020, a day after her abduction, and that the family had in fact delayed registering the case. He also rejected Nabi’s accusations of mistreatment. Rana and his subordinates were suspended by the Islamabad police chief, who also ordered for an internal inquiry against him for delaying the FIR.
Loss of Evidence
The delay in a formal search for Farishta’s body cost the investigation valuable evidence.
Nabi provided that his daugher’s body bore torture marks, and that the murderers had also poured acid over her. He also stated that his daughter was raped before being murdered.
The post-mortem report noted that the corpse had decayed significantly, and that evidence was difficult to collect because the body was infested with worms and had been partially consumed by wild animals. The autopsy was however able to determine that the body bore clear stab wounds, with a particularly large incision on the belly, and that Farishta had likely bled to death.
A forensic analysis issued on May 30, 2020, found no DNA in samples collected from the girl’s corpse or clothes, ruling out rape. Police determined the suspect had attempted to rape Farishta but when she resisted, she was stabbed to death and then dumped into some bushes.
Several arrests were made, with three neighbours including the father of a girl whom Farishta was friends with and a close relative nabbed on May 22, 2020, under suspicion. On June 23, 2020, police arrested the main suspect after Farishta’s mother informed them of seeing a man near her daughter prior to her disappearance.
Police were able to track the suspect down with a composite sketch as the DNA and autopsy had provided no clues. It was discovered that the alleged killer had in 2006 attempted to molest two minor girls and in 2017 had tried again to molest a six-year-old.
Both cases were settled out of court.