Gang-rape victim's family being harassed -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Gang-rape victim’s family being harassed

MULTAN – Influential people in the Bait Mir Hazar Khan area of Muzaffargarh district are pressurizing the family members of a gang-rape victim to make them withdraw the case while the police have yet to arrest the culprits.

The 12-year-old victim had gone to the fields near her home in Mauza Bait Dirayee at night on Aug 15 to answer the call of nature when she was allegedly overpowered by Mukhtar and Bashir Ahmed and raped.

Her elderly father, Abdul Ghafoor, told Dawn on Sunday that they got worried when she did not come back. They searched the area and found her lying unconscious in the cotton fields nearby. She narrated her ordeal on coming to her senses after a couple of hours.

He said the next morning when they were heading towards the Bait Mir Hazar Khan police station to lodge the FIR, a locally influential person forced them to stay back and called a panchayat to decide the next course of action.

He said that a panchayat was called by Rustam Khan Rind with Noor Muhammad, Akbar Baloch, Rabnawaz Baloch, Abbas Baloch, Nasir Shah and Farid Chandrarr as its members. Scores of other people also assembled to watch proceedings of the panchayat, he added.

The panchayat decided that if Mukhtar and Bashir were found guilty they would give two of their women in marriage to two men of victim’s family and in case the allegation of rape proved wrong the victim’s family would have to give four women in marriage to members of the family of the accused.

The victim’s family accepted the panchayat decision, allegedly under duress. But the accused refused to accept it. They however offered Rs50,000 as compensation if the victim did not lodge a case with police. The panchayat put off the matter for another day.

Meanwhile, the victim family lodged an FIR (133/04) with the area police under Section 10/7/79(3) of the Islamic laws. The police referred the victim to the Jatoi Rural Health Centre for medical examination.

The medical officer at the RHC, Dr Shahida Safdar, examined the girl and reported that she had indeed been raped, and pointed out marks of violence on her body. A week after the report, the police have still not arrested the culprits who, according to the victim family, are freely roaming around in the area under the patronage of the influential person and his henchmen in police.

Abdul Ghafoor said he was a poor man being threatened with dire consequences by the culprits. He said he and his family had gone into hiding since they disobeyed the panchayat order.

Jatoi SDPO Malik Liaquat said the culprits would soon be arrested. He said that a patch-up could not be expected between the two parties in rape cases. “Police are bound to arrest the culprits and charge sheet them in accordance with the law because the courts are the only legal forum to decide matters under Qisas and Diyat laws,” he added.

The idea was appreciated, and it was decided that it should initially be tried for trial of condemned prisoners as well as hardened and desperate criminals detained in district jail, Lahore.

The video trial will avoid happening of untoward events apart from minimising the delay in concluding the trial. It will facilitate smooth conduct of the proceedings of condemned prisoners as well as desperate and hardened criminals. It would diminish inter-gang feuds in the jail vans during transportation and in the judicial lock-ups. The prisoners would also be relieved of the repetitive and periodical strain to which they are subjected to while attending the courts.

This system would eliminate over-crowding in the courts and result in speedy disposal of the cases. The menace of transportation of prohibited material like drugs and weapons into the jails would be curtailed considerably because of less mobility of the prisoners.

It may also ease the law-enforcement agencies in arranging security measures, and would spare them to spend their energies in maintaining law and order, crime prevention and crime detection.
Source: Dawn
Date:8/23/2004