LAHORE - At least six women were found brutally murdered in different districts of Punjab during the last seven days. Three of them were discovered dead from Lahore alone.

Last week, a 40-year-od woman was found brutally murdered in Lahore’s Shahdara Town neighbourhood. Investigators said the charred body was found from River Ravi near Haji Kot area.

Another 40-year-old woman was found slaughtered near the Jahangir Tomb in Shahdara. Similarly, a young woman was found stuffed in a suitcase alongside a drain near Choburgi Park in Lytton Road.

Police filed “blind murder” cases against unidentified men and the homicide cells are investigating the horrific killings with no arrest made yet. Since the policemen of sub-inspector rank are working as officers of homicide cell, this specialised unit has badly failed to solve most of the blind murder cases.

In Lahore, police have identified two of the three murdered women but investigators are unable to trace the murderers behind the horrible killings. The homicide cells of the investigations police are treating these deaths as “murders” and investigations are underway to unearth the killers with no clue in hand.

The police department last year had activated the specialised homicide investigation cell to investigate murder cases in the Punjab province, where police reported more than 6,000 killings in 2014. This year, at least 2862 people have been murdered in the province (from January to August).

According to police, hundreds of investigation officers were trained by forensic experts in collecting evidences, preservation of the crime scene, and completion of legal proceedings. In September 2015, the police department launched the homicide cell to investigate murder cases in the province.

Reportedly, at least 2,000 investigation officers are being assisted by 1,489 trained officials. As per the planned working of the homicide cell, every murder investigation shall be conducted in a scientific manner by employing every available technology with optimal utilisation of available resources.

But where is this “homicide cell” now? How many blind murders has this cell solved so far? Why these investigators have failed to trace the merciless killers-cum-rapists of women and children.

For an instance, a missing child was found stuffed in a plastic bag in Badami Bagh locality in June. The sack-packed body was identified as Muhammad Umair, son of Shabbir Ahmed. Investigators say Umair was sexually assaulted by merciless killers. The homicide cell is yet to catch the criminals who mercilessly killed the boy some four months ago.

About the working of the homicide cell, a police officer last year claimed that “their focus will be murder cases with an aim to bring the culprits to justice at any cost. The cell will be well-equipped and the officers would work extensively by applying forensic and scientific techniques.”

The cell was launched with an aim to expedite the investigation process and to provide the timely justice to the victim families in murder cases. Initially, the homicide investigation units comprising of 478 officers had started working in September 2015.

Earlier, the police department selected at least 540 investigation officers for investigation training at Lahore Police Training College in Chuhng. Among them 478 officials passed the training course and during the training, the senior officers and experts of Forensic Agency also trained them on modern lines in various sections included evidence collection, preservation of crime scene and completion of legal proceedings.

These investigation officers are operating from each police station as in-charge of the homicide cells. Among these, 78 in Lahore, 52 Sheikhupura, 75 Gujranwala, 45 Rawalpindi, 52 Faisalabad, 33 Sargodha, 40 Multan, 36 Sahiwal, 32 Bahawalpur and 35 operate from DG Khan.

The officers of homicide cells were provided at least 128 latest investigation kits having all basic tools with the purpose to immediately preserve the crime scene and collect evidences. The cost of each kit is said to be Rs35,000.

Initially, it was planned that each officer would investigate only 20 murder cases in a year and he could not be assigned for any other job. Also, 60 per cent of total investigation cost will be paid to these officers whereas the rest of 40pc will be paid on submission of complete Challans to the courts.

Ironically, these officers are being ‘supervised and monitored’ by the corruption-tainted officers of DSP or SDPOs rank respectively. The department had established the homicide cell in each police station of the province so that the murder case should be investigated thoroughly and the criminals must be brought to justice besides ensuring timely investigations.

According to insiders, it was a great idea to develop specialised units to investigate murder cases solely. But, the officers serving in this unit as in-charge of the homicide cell are poorly trained with no quality education. They also lack skills, training, and even confidence. In most of the cases, they don’t even visit the crime scenes to collect or preserve evidences.

Primarily, most of the officers selected for this unit were not willing to join this homicide cell. The department forcibly posted the officers in the new unit.

Not enough, these untrained and inexperienced policemen typically investigate the suspects. They keep suspects in illegal custody for many days, not to mention the bad beahviour with the complainants.

The performance of the homicide cell cannot be improved without well-educated, honest, and dedicated officers. Since the existing homicide cells are following the usual police pattern, they are unable to make any difference with regard to uncovering the killers behind blind murders.