-Police claims to have so far arrested 14 suspects
-IGP says suspects are under investigation, more raids initiated
-Police Chief claims to have found hard leads
-Punjab CM says Justice will be provided; culprits will be punished for heinous crime
-Faisal Vawda says PM directs LEAs to find & arrest culprits
From Abid Usman
Lahore: Punjab government spokesperson Mussarat Cheema on Thursday said police had arrested 12 men suspected of involvement in the alleged gang-rape of a woman on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway.
Two “robbers” allegedly raped the woman at gunpoint in Gujjarpura area on Wednesday while she was waiting for help on the motorway after her car developed a fault. A police official said as the woman crossed the toll plaza on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway, her car stalled either due to shortage of petrol or some fault.
Meanwhile, she got a call from a relative of Gujranwala, who asked her to call the police helpline for help while he also left from home to reach her. When he reached the location, he found the woman terrified with her clothes stained with blood.
The police official said two armed men found the woman alone, took her and her children to a nearby field at gunpoint and gang-raped her, adding that police had formed teams to trace the culprits. Cheema said in a tweet today that Punjab Police and related departments were “working in close coordination to capture those involved in [the] painful motorway incident”.
“So far 12 suspects have been arrested and search is going on,” she said. A statement released by the Punjab Police also confirmed the arrests and said that 20 teams of Lahore Police and CIA, headed by the deputy inspector general of police (investigation), had been constituted on the orders of Inspector General Inam Ghani to investigate the case. It said that police were taking all necessary measures, adding that “no stone will be left unturned to provide immediate justice to the victim and her family”.
The police teams are “working day and night”, the statement said, to identify the accused by gathering DNA evidence, geofencing, examining CCTV footage and Nadra records. “More than half of the suspects in the case are being investigated and raids are being carried out to nab dozens of former record holders in such incidents,” IGP Ghani was quoted as saying. During a meeting, Ghani said that command officers should consider it as a test case and bring it to a logical conclusion as early as possible, the statement said. “Irresponsibility would not be tolerated in arresting the social criminals involved in sexual violence and oppression,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that the ministry’s regional office “immediately asked for an action report from the police”.
The ministry received the report as well as a copy of the first information report (FIR) of the incident, she added. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar vowed that justice would be delivered in the case. “Justice will be done in the motorway case no matter what and those who tortured the victim will have to suffer strict punishment!” he tweeted. He said that the responsibility of providing protection and justice to civilians rested with the state. “Our manifesto is to create a society where, whether it’s day or night, women/children would feel safe whether they are alone or with family.”
Information Minister Shibli Faraz also condemned the incident and vowed that the “wicked characters who committed this heinous act will not escape the law” and will be punished accordingly.
PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif urged society to “at least stand with the victim and acknowledge the real problem”. He said that the incident should be dealt with “collective and mutli-pronged action” instead of a “knee jerk response”.
“We as a society are failing our women & children,” he remarked. “For starters, at least stand with the victim and acknowledge the real problem. Yet another horrible incident calls for collective & multi-pronged action… NOT a knee-jerk response!”
In an earlier tweet, the former Punjab chief minister had termed the incident “condemnable, shameful and saddening”. PPP leaders also condemned the incident and party’s Senator Sherry Rehman submitted a calling attention notice in the Senate Secretariat to discuss the matter in the upper house. “This heinous crime merits a response from the concerned minister on the floor of the house,” the notice read.
Separately, PPP leader Nafisa Shah termed the incident as “saddening” and said that the crime took place on a major road which “raises a lot of question marks for the government”. Shah said that there were reports that motorway police were not deployed on the road despite repeated requests.