Zainab rape-murder: Was suspect Imran Ali known to his neighbours?

Fresh details have emerged in the case relating to the rape and murder of eight-year-old Zainab, that may shed light on the fact that the paedophile wasn’t caught despite the fact he was well-known in the Kasur neighbourhood.

Imran Ali managed to dodge the law for nearly three years despite being accused of rape of seven more girls, and murder of some of them, BBC reported.

If the suspect was a familiar face in the Lahore southern city, why the police took two years to get to him, as five more girls lost their lives?

Were the witnesses and evidences not available or the police ignored them? Why wasn’t the activism, which was displayed during the last 14 days to nab the culprit, shown earlier.

One of the residents in the neighbourhood, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “He [Imran] used to sit with us at this tea stall and was seen passing by in this area several times.”

“We did not become suspicious of Imran since the images and footage of the man shown on the television as the suspect, wasn’t clear,” he added.

According to him, they didn’t think Imran could be involved in such a heinous act. “He was famous as a Naat reciter,” the neighbour added.

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However, there were also other people who lived closer to Imran’s house and knew what kind of a person he really was. And some of them had even registered cases with the local police.

One of the local people who identified himself as Muhammad Akram told BBC, “In 2015, I myself caught Imran red-handed trying to forcibly grope and kiss a minor girl.”

“I immediately start to beat Imran,” he said. “The scuffle led other people to gather on the scene. Subsequently, he was let go after his father intervened and apologised on behalf of his son.”

Pertinently, it was the same year when the first incident of assault came to the fore, following by seven more such incidents.

Akram went on to say: “Similar reports of Imran’s involvement in attempt to assault girls in different nearby areas surfaced, and he was beaten on that occasion too.”

Another man, Muhammad Ali, who lived in the same lane as Imran’s said his routine of coming in and out of his house was suspicious. “I never saw him with any minor girl where there were reports of him living with a girl.

“She was an adult who lived in the house for about 15 days, after which she went back to her family.” There were rumours that the two were going to get married,” he added.

When asked why police wasn’t told of the developments, Akram said, “People remain scared of police as they begin interrogating the locals.”

But there was once incident where a woman had registered a proper report against Imran for attempting to assault her child. There was also reportedly a scuffle between the family of the girl and the accused.

During initial days of Zainab’s murder, police investigated Imran but let him go after he claimed of pain in his chest.

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