VEHARI: A 17-year-old girl was abducted, raped and paraded naked around the streets of her village for refusing the advances of a local landlord.
According to local residents, Saleema* was alone in her home when Ijaz Ahmed and his friends, Bilal, Shehbaz, Muazzam and Tahir broke into her house and raped her. Saleema’s brother Rasheed told the police that Ijaz had been stalking his sister for several months and she had refused him. “He began to threaten her and me,” he said. Rasheed and Saleema’s parents died a few years ago and they were both living with their grandfather and an old uncle.
“I had refused him several times. He threatened to kill my brother and me,” Saleema told the police. On Saturday night, five men broke into Saleema’s house and raped her while her brother was at work. “They beat up my grandfather and uncle and they could barely walk,” she said. Locals said that the men later dragged Saleema outside in the dera and paraded her in the streets of the village. “The men kept making loud claims about her being their ‘property’ and no one said a word because they were armed,” said a villager.
Rasheed registered an FIR in Machiwaal Police Station. “At first the police refused to even file the FIR but now they have done so,” Rasheed said, adding “I know they will not follow it up because Ijaz Ahmed is the son of a feudal lord Khalil Ahmed.” Rasheed said that the feudal lord’s family had been pressurising his family and had threatened to kill them if they went to the police. An FIR No 27/2011 has been lodged but Rasheed and his sister said that the police had only lodged offences under Section No 376/1 but did not file a rape or gang rape charge.
“I have issued a medical certificate testifying that she was gang raped. The girl was also dragged through the village,” Vehari district hospital Dr Ghazala confirmed. “The hospital has already treated three members of the family as the girl’s grandfather and uncle were brought in with severe injuries after they tried to rescue her,” she said.
Station House Officer (SHO) Rafiq Joiya said that the police were searching for the criminals. However locals said that they had seen Ijaz return to the village and saw him beat up Rasheed. “They beat him to a pulp after he filed the case and broke his nose,” said a villager Karim.
“He came to me and threatened to kill me if I did not take the case back,” Rasheed said, while he was in the hospital.
Rasheed, Saleema and their grandfather have asked for the Punjab Chief Minister to take up their case. “The police will do nothing because Ijaz and his cronies are roaming about freely in the streets,” Rasheed said, adding “everyone knows where they are and they have boasted that they will kill all of us.”
*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the victims
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2011.