Zeeshan, an eighth grade student, was brutally murdered by two classmates, Nauman and Akash, and another ‘friend’ in eleventh grade, Musa, in a private academy in Dhoke Kala Khan, Rawalpindi.
Brothers Nauman and Akash, aged between 13 and 14 years, planned the murder with Musa aged around 16-17 years. They went to Zeeshan’s house at taraweeh (Ramadan prayer) time and invited him to join them in a cricket match at a ground near Islamabad Expressway and Dhoke Kala Khan. Zeeshan agreed and told his family that he was going to the mosque with his friends for taraweeh prayer.
When they reached the deserted ground, one of the boys hit Zeeshan on his head with a cricket wicket which caused him to fall and lose consciousness. However, he was still breathing and so, one of the boys ran to his house which was nearby and returned with a knife with which he slit his throat, killing him.
The three boys then picked up Zeeshan’s body and carried it for almost half a kilometre where they dumped it in a deep pit excavated for constructing the overhead pedestrian bridge on the Islamabad Expressway. After this, they drafted a letter to Zeeshan’s family, demanding Rs 1.6 million in ransom with the threat of killing their son (who was already dead) if the money was not paid.
They left clear instructions for the family in the letter to put the money in a black plastic bag and drop it at a spot they marked on a map that they drew using a scale and pen, with all the landmarks clearly indicated on it. They put the ransom letter in a brown envelope and slipped it into Zeeshan’s house in the dead of night when all the roads were deserted. The letter gave clear instructions to the family not to inform the police under any circumstances and told them to come alone on foot, drop the bag of money at the pre-determined spot, turn back and leave immediately. It warned the family that failure to follow any of the instructions would lead to their son’s death (whom they had already killed and dumped in a pit).
However, upon receiving the ransom note, the family did inform the police and according to sources, the police helped the family raise the ransom money and laid a trap to catch the culprits. One member of Zeeshan’s family then carried the black bag of money to the designated spot on the map and returned while the police kept a close watch on the area. Around an hour after dropping the money, a young boy turned up at the spot, picked up the bag and left. The police, thinking that the boy was too young to be acting on his own, tried to follow him to reach the real criminal.
However, as soon as he reached the street, the boy started running and fearing that he might disappear in the maze of the narrow streets and alleys, the police acted swiftly and grabbed the boy. After investigations, police found out that Zeeshan had already been killed and that the boy was one of the murderers.
While talking to The News about the incident, Dr Saadia Ashraf, a Clinical Psychologist, said that the eldest of the three boys, Musa, seemed to be suffering from ‘Anti-social Personality Disorder’, which results from social deprivations, violence, drug abuse and exposure to anti-social activities. She said that there was evidence to show that these boys held some sort of grudge against Zeeshan and that children and adults who suffer from ‘Anti-social Personality Disorder’ also suffer from ‘Conduct Disorder’ in most cases which is often caused by feelings of deprivation, jealousy and ultimately hatred.
According to her, “The young men of the age of 15 years and above develop this behaviour because of various situations and circumstances they face in the society and react. And exposure to too much violence in films, video games and TV shows and use of drugs spurs the symptoms and encourages them to indulge in violence.”
Dr Ashraf, who engages with children with special needs and women facing traumatic social conditions, said that the role of parents and teachers is becoming increasingly important to monitor, understand and intervene in the behaviour of young boys and girls.
Ms. Silwat Shafi, a practicing sociologist, who works with women and children who have been through trauma, said that the unchecked exposure of young children to video games, films and highly suggestive TV programmes full of violence or about violence leave a very deep impact on the minds and behaviour of young children. According to her,
“It is a serious matter and leaves a big responsibility on the parents and teachers of the children of these ages to monitor their behaviour, keep a check on their activities and movements and keep asking them questions about their activities to prevent them from indulging in anti-social activities.”
That these young teenagers were able to formulate and execute the murder of their ‘friend’ in cold blood is disturbing on so many levels. But it is clear that there are many facets to such behaviour – from social depravations to lack of constructive activities for children to unmonitored and inappropriate media access to lack of parental and teacher support. We can only hope that this incident brings to attention the plight of our youth and that all concerned parties take relevant steps to prevent something like this from ever happening again.
We extend our condolences to Zeeshan’s family and pray for them to have patience to cope with this irreplaceable loss (Aameen).