Islamabad: Taunts lead parents to toss baby into canal
ISLAMABAD: Seeking to escape the taunts and cruel jokes of neighbours and relatives, the distressed parents of a two-month-old disabled baby threw their child into a canal in a remote village of Okara district, Punjab, last September. The body of the innocent baby — the fourth disabled girl born to the family — is yet to be fished out of the canal. This has set off speculation that her corpse may have been eaten by wild animals. The incident took place in Village 36–37/2RA where the couple decided to toss their daughter into the furious waters of the Lower Bari Doaba Canal passing through Sahiwal and Okara. In a jiffy, the baby was swept away without any trace.
On Sunday, Okara police confirmed to The News it was the father of the disabled girl who had thrown her into the canal. One police official said the heartless man gave his wife Jamila electric shocks and threatened her with divorce if she did not confess to being part of the gruesome act.
In light of their heartbreaking confession before an inquiry committee, Okara police registered a murder case against the couple under Section 302. But so far the FIR has not been made public, as efforts are under way to arrest the killers, still at large.
In a chat with this scribe, District Police Officer Bilal Kamiana confirmed the heart-rending incident. He also said a murder case had been registered against the parents of the child with the Okara Saddar Police Station.
Kamiana too blamed the father of the girl for her murder. But one source regretted the Okara police did not react to the incident well in time, as they initially refused to take action.
It took the police two months to wake up after Farid Tariq Khan, a resident of the village, asked them about the shocking incident. As the resident vowed to bring the culprits to justice, the police refused to register an FIR on his application on the plea that only blood relatives of the victim had the right to do so.
But Tariq Khan did not give up and went on to move the sessions court, which finally ordered the police to register an FIR against the parents. After the registration of the FIR, the police are said to have arrested the grandfather of the innocent girl to force his absconding son to surrender.
The couple was reportedly taunted by villagers that they had given birth to a girl whose head was too small. The baby was reportedly nicknamed as “Doula Shah Chuha (Mouse)”. The scorn and gibes are cited as the main reason behind the inhuman action.
According to the investigations conducted by The News, Tariq Farid came to know that Mohammad Saleem had thrown his daughter in the canal. He immediately talked to the village elders and warned them that the brutality might invite the wrath of God.
The elders were urged to take concrete measures to avert recurrence of such callous acts in their village. But Saleem refused to listen to the elders, prompting Tariq Khan to bring him to justice. He asked his driver Mohammad Hanif to give the police an application, detailing the whole saga. Consequently, DSP Mohammad Younis Butt was appointed as inquiry officer.
In his findings, DSP Butt wrote police were told on September 27, 2008 that Mohammad Saleem, son of Sardar Ali, took his wife along with their two-month old disabled daughter to a canal where two of his friends were waiting for them.
As they reached there, Saleem snatched the girl from his spouse who did not know what was going to happen. He immediately threw the girl into the water before the eyes of her shell-shocked mother. Saleem’s friends prevented the crying mother from saving her child.
On hearing her cries, three villagers named Mohammad Afzal, Mohammad Ashraf and Khalid Mahmood rushed to the spot. They jumped into the canal to save the disabled girl but failed.
Butt summoned the victim’s mother who stated she was married to Saleem eight years back and had given birth to three abnormal children. The elder daughter was five-year old, with a very small head. Three months earlier, she gave birth to yet another baby girl who too was disabled.
Jamila complained that her neighbours had started cracking jokes on her daughter. As they got fed up with the taunts, they decided to dump their daughter in the canal. She added no one else was responsible for this inhuman act except the victim’s parents.
In a statement recorded by police, Saleem’s father said his daughter-in-law had given birth to three abnormal children. She had thus become the laughing stock for the villagers, he continued.
He was kept in the dark as he was told the parents of Jamila were ready to adopt the child.
In his findings, Butt wrote the allegations levelled against Saleem had proved to be correct.
Even his wife Jamila had also confessed to the crime. The DSP concluded his inquiry had established that Jamila was innocent, as Saleem wrested the baby from her before throwing her into the canal.
Speaking to The News, Tariq Khan confirmed the murder but rejected the claim that the villagers taunted the couple. Khan said almost every villager had visited the house of the couple to condemn the ruthless act.