LAHORE: Police investigators in Narowal are siding with men accused of gang-raping a 13-year-old Christian girl and then torturing her family and killing her two unborn cousins, say the girl’s family.
Though FIRs of both incidents have been registered, the police have already declared one of the three accused, a retired inspector’s son, innocent in the rape case. In the case for causing two stillbirths, the police are not arresting the accused even though a judge cancelled their interim bails.
The rape victim, a student of class six, told Civil Judge Mansoor Ahmed Warraich that Irfan, his employee Shahid and an unidentified man had kidnapped her as she walked past Irfan’s house on March 29. She said they drugged her, took her to the fields and raped her. She said she had been unable to cry out as her attackers stuffed some cloth in her mouth. She said that she woke up the next morning still in the fields, roused by family members who had been looking for her since she went missing. She said she had not gone to school since the day of the incident and never wanted to return.
Parveen Bibi, the family matriarch, told The Express Tribune that they had tried to lodge a case first at Domal police chowki, then Saddar police station, Narowal, but the police refused to register an FIR and instead urged the family to reach a settlement with the accused. They refused, and around 10 days later an FIR under Section 376 (rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code was finally registered at the police station.
A medical examination of the victim was conducted and established that she had been raped.
Parveen said that the accused and others then attacked the family to put pressure on them to reach a compromise and withdraw the case. She said on May 8 Irfan, his father Safdar Ali (the retired inspector), Salman Arshad, Asad Ali, Rashid Ali and Muhammad Boota invaded their home and beat up the family. She said women and children were also beaten. As a result of the attack, she said, her daughter-in-law Nosheen gave birth a day later to two stillborn girls.
She said that the police had registered an FIR against the six suspects under Sections 338-C (isqat-i-janin, abortion), 354 (assault on a woman), 452 (trespass), 109 (abetment), 147 (rioting) and 148 (rioting armed with a deadly weapon).
She said, however, that the police were favouring the accused. She said though a judge had cancelled the bails of some of the accused, the police were not arresting them.
In an order issued on May 29, Narowal Additional District and Sessions Judge Amjad Ali Shah also pointed out irregularities in the investigation. A part of the order reads: “…for the past seven days no recording in any case diary indicates either incompetency or clear malicious intent on the part of Investigation Officer SI Sarwat Hakeem. If any party is dissatisfied with the finding of the investigation, it can move an application for transfer of the investigation. The Investigation SP is warned not to interfere in this finding of the IO, otherwise a criminal case will be registered against him as well as against the IO for dishonest investigation.”
SI Sarwat Hakeem, the investigation officer in both cases, told The Express Tribune that the 13-year-old girl had gone to the fields with the three accused of her own consent. He said that she had a “friendship” with Shahid and they had fornicated “with her consent” He said the family had not found the girl in the fields; she had gone home on her own.
He also dismissed the family’s claim that Nosheen’s unborn baby girls had died due to being beaten. He said the stillborn children had been delivered 48 hours after the incident. He said that Section 338-C (causing an abortion) did not apply in this case and it might be removed from the FIR.
Parveen Bibi said that the accused were also putting pressure on them to stop pursuing the cases by claiming ownership of a seven-marla plot in the village which belonged to the family. She said that they had had to stop construction on the plot because of the claim.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2012.
More in PunjabWater woes: ‘Include politics in river water dialogue’