Several arrested in Punjab as law enforcers launch crackdown on harassers

Following complaints by several women across the province, Punjab authorities strive to bring harassers to justice


BILAL GHAURI October 16, 2019
Representational Image (PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE)

LAHORE: In a world where women walk shoulder to shoulder with men and strive for equality and dignity in all walks of life, parts of Pakistan still remain a difficult terrain for anyone but a man to tread. However, following a recent slew of complaints by locals, Punjab law enforcement agencies sprang into action in an attempt to make the country a safer place for women.

Upon the directions of Director FIA Waqar Abbasi, the Cybercrime Cell has recently initiated an operation across the province, targeting people and entities involved in cases of sexual harassment.

As a result of the operation, which centred on different areas of the province including Lahore, Sialkot, Narowal and Gujrat, 11 people have been arrested in the last 45 days, while further investigations are underway.

Those arrested were allegedly involved in blackmailing and threatening young women on social media and communication networks like WhatsApp and Facebook.

Among those arrested this week include Farhan Khalid and Omar Pervez from Lahore, who were found to be in possession of cellphones with inappropriate and compromising content intended to be used as leverage against women victims.

Meanwhile, in other districts, the Cybercrime Cell also filed a number of cases according to the Cybercrime Act, allowing to complaints by parents of girls who’ve been harassed, threatened or blackmailed.

Previously, the Lahore Police also had to make an arrest for incident exposure, when a group of women travelling in a motorcycle rickshaw near Etihad Town, were flashed at, followed and cat-called by a man identified as Arsalan Manzoor.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) B A Nasir took notice of the matter and ordered immediate action against the accused, after the complainant posted footage of the incident on social media, urging the law enforcement agencies to take prompt action.

In previous months, Islamabad Police also made two arrests on the complaints of a Canadian model. Assma Galuta, who was visiting the country for a humanitarian cause, reached out to the Prime Minister using the Pakistan Citizens Portal after being chased by two motorists who resorted to badgering and harassing her while she was waiting for her cab. As per her complaint, the accused continued to follow Galuta from the confluence of Islamabad and Rawalpindi until she took refuge in a shopping mall to escape the predators.

A video made by the complainant showed two men identified as Hamza Sohail and Anas Kamran, trying to intercept the Canadian model’s car and asking the driver for her destination.

On the directives of Amir Zulfiqar, IGP Islamabad, the arrests were made within two days after the complaint was lodged.

On the other hand, the FIA Passport Cell has also expedited its operations against human traffickers who draw millions of rupees from innocent people under false pretenses of employment opportunities in Europe, the Middle East and other countries. So far, the crackdown has resulted in the arrest of five culprits mentioned in the Red Book, while proceedings for several others are in progress.

“These criminals prey on innocent people desperate for employment and then rob them of their money and trap them with false promises of overseas employment,” informed Director FIA Waqar Abbasi.

“We’ve expedited our proceedings in the regard and are going after these quacks by the books, which has yielded promising results but I also advise people to be equally vigilant in such circumstances.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2019.

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