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Sambrial Police had initially closed the case stating that Tania Mariyam had jumped into the Upper Chenab Canal on 23 January, despite evidence of poisoning and rape.

But now, following international pressure from social media activists who helped the UK-based British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) highlight the murder of the Christian schoolgirl, who had apparently been drugged, raped and murdered, has led to a police retreat from their original claim that she had committed suicide.

“The delay in registering the case means police may have let the killer escape justice, a common theme in a nation in which the rule of law is at its lowest ebb,” said a BPCA spokesperson.

BPCA has been counselling and supporting the family and has also helped with a solicitor. Tania Mariyam’s brother, Johnson Gill, with the support of the solicitor, were finally able to convince the local police to register a murder case under section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Now, if caught, the murderer could face death by hanging, a punishment considered equal and fair under the Islamic law of Qisas.

According to the newly registered First Incident Report (FIR), Johnson had dropped his 12-year-old sister at the Convent of Jesus and Mary School, in Sialkot.

Later, he received a phone call that her dead body had been found in Upper Chenab Canal but despite police insistence of it being suicide, Johnson and his other sister Sania, refused to believe their confident sister Tania would have ever done such a thing.

“The grieving family have submitted a petition in Sialkot Magistrates court on 6 February, seeking exhumation of Tania’s grave to prove the poisoning took place and to search for any clue that could lead to the apprehension of the murderer,” the spokesperson also told the ASSIST News Service.

“Judicial magistrate, Shagufta Sabir, had summoned Sambrial police to bring a complete record of their primary investigation to the court and expressed grave concerns at the failure to recognise clear evidence and a lack of quality to the police investigation. He ordered the initiation of a murder investigation by Sambrial Police.”

After the hearing, the girl’s father, Nadeem Gill, spoke with the BPCA and said: “There was a disgusting police cover-up and I fear that they have colluded with the murderer and know more than they are letting on. They do not care about Christians”.

Although the girl attended this Christian-owned school, the majority of the students are Muslim as, according to BPCA, they are more able to pay the high costs for schooling at the establishment. A large percentage of the teachers are also Muslim and both teachers and children in the school have regularly complained about harassment and bullying from respective colleagues.

Source: ASSIST News Service

  • Thank the Lord the case is now being given the attention needed. Ask the Lord for justice on behalf of Tania and her family. Pray He will minister to them in their grief and strengthen their faith.
  • Pray against any reprisals, that the family will be protected from harm and they will continue to be cared for.
  • Ask God to use this case and the testimony of this family to bring further attention to the plight of victims of persecution in Pakistan.