The Case of Serial Killer Javed Iqbal

In 1999, a Pakistani man confessed to killing 100 children. But it would take over 20 years and hundreds more deaths for Pakistan to pass its first child abuse law.

Javed Iqbal
Picture dated 17 February 2000 shows alleged serial killer, Javed Iqbal (C) arriving in court under police custody in Lahore, Pakistan (ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)

Imaan Sheikh


July 14, 2021


12 min

Content warning: The following story contains graphic description of child sexual abuse, rape, kidnapping, violence, and murder.

“I could have killed 500. This was not a problem; money was not a problem. But the pledge I had taken was of [killing] 100 children.”

These words sent a shiver down the spine of everyone in the office of Jang News, Pakistan’s oldest Urdu daily. It was a chilly December night in 1999. Authorities and journalists sat listening mouths agape to a 40-year-old Lahore resident who was confessing to raping and killing 100 children — runaways, street kids, and orphans between the ages of 10-15. He said he dissolved their dismembered bodies in hydrochloric acid before disposing of them in the Ravi river, all in a span of six months. His appearance that day was unruly, his tone nonchalant, and his name was Javed Iqbal Umayr. He would turn out to be Pakistan’s most prolific and cold-blooded serial killer.

Iqbal claimed that he had pledged to rape and kill 100 children as part of a revenge plan against the police, who accused him of sodomy and ignored his complaints after two men beat him up and allegedly broke his bones. His mother’s health deteriorated after finding out her son was accused of sodomizing young boys. “My mother cried for me. I wanted 100 mothers to cry for their children,” he said in his confession.

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