Pakistani baby 'in hiding' after attempted murder charge
Nine-month-old Musa Khan in a 'secret place' after being charged with trying to kill gas workers in a riot
THE family of a nine-month-old baby have been forced into hiding, after their young child was charged with attempted murder by Pakistani police.
One officer has been suspended and an official inquiry has been launched in the wake of the farcical case that saw nine-month-old Musa Khan fingerprinted in a police station for his supposed involvement in a riot in one of Lahore's slums.
The child's grandfather said that the family had moved to protect themselves from the intense pressure they had been subjected to by local police. "We have had to move to a secret place because we are poor and the police are putting huge pressure on us to manipulate the case," Muhammad Yasin said.
When forced to make an appearance in court, Musa sat on his grandfather's lap and had to be comforted with a bottle of milk.
The episode has "shone an embarrassing light on Pakistan's shambolic criminal justice system," The Guardian says, in which underpaid and ill-trained police can often lay false charges due to either corruption or individual incompetence.
According to a report filed by police, Musa was one of a number of people who tried to kill gas company workers as they attempted to disconnect houses who had not paid their gas bills. People living in the area, including Musa, were reported to have thrown stones at the gas company staff and the policemen accompanying them.
Locals insisted that the protest was peaceful. "There were only women in the houses at daytime and they resisted this discontinuing of supply," Yasin said. "Later we blocked the road and raised slogans against police."
Analysts say that the practice of charging entire families is sometimes used as a form of collective punishment. The judge presiding over the case granted Musa bail and ordered police to explain why they had brought the charges.
Shahbaz Sharif, chief minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, ordered an immediate inquiry into the case.