Homeless children at centre of sex abuse case
• 40 youngsters shifted to Lahore • FIR against Protection Bureau staff
By Mohammad Saleem
FAISALABAD: As many as 40 homeless children living under the care of the Child Protection Bureau (CPB) were shifted to Lahore following registration of an FIR carrying serious charges of child abuse against some junior staffers at a local CPB facility, Dawn learnt on Wednesday.
According to sources, bureau’s local head Umer Daraz Bhatti got the FIR registered against nine CPB employees, alleging they had been subjecting these children to various sorts of abuse. The accused denied the charge and counter-alleged that it was an act of revenge by the complainants.
Mr Bhatti stated in the FIR registered with Madina Town police on Oct 1 that the children told him that attendants Tahir, Nasrullah, Shehbaz, Iftikhar, Shahid , cooks Ashraf and Shahbaz, laundryman Javed and security guard Riast had been subjecting them to rape, physical torture, harassment and forced labour.
Besides, Mr Bhatti quoted the children as telling him the accused had been showing them objectionable movies and pictures and had threatened them with dire consequences in case they revealed these cruel acts to anyone.
All the accused were booked under sections 294, 374, 377, 378 and 511 of the Pakistan Penal Code. However, no arrests had been made till the filing of this report on Wednesday evening.
The sources said, after being informed of the situation, CPB Punjab Director General Amina Imam paid a visit to the local CPB facility some three days ago and after a personal meeting with the abused children ordered their shifting to Lahore.
Denying the charges, the accused CPB workers claimed they were being victimised by Mr Bhatti because they had been raising objections to his misbehaviour and pointing out his corruption.
They said they were ready to face any impartial inquiry and demanded the Punjab government should conduct a probe into bureau’s affairs in the light of complaints they had been filing against Mr Bhatti from time to time.
They alleged the children gave statements against them under duress and were chained and locked in a room before their meeting with Ms Imam was arranged. One of the accused said she had taken 40 out of 51 children living in the bureau along with her to Lahore without getting the mandatory permission for the court.
He said also mandatory was a preliminary departmental inquiry before registration of a criminal case against a government employee. However, no inquiry was conducted, and this, according to him, was against the law.
Another man nominated in the FIR said the bureau employees had sent applications to the Punjab Home Department and the CPB provincial head against Mr Bhatti which needed to be probed. He maintained the entire junior staff of the bureau was on a token-strike for the last two months and their salaries were stopped by the provincial head without any justification.
About allegations of rape and sexual harassment, he said all the accused were ready for any kind of medical examination, including DNA test to prove their innocence.
The CPB head told Dawn children were shifted to Lahore for their safety.
He said the CPB director general did not need court’s permission to transfer children to any centre across Punjab and insisted the allegations against him were baseless.