The horrific gang rape of a woman in front of her children on Lahore-Sialkot motorway on Wednesday night has shocked the entire nation and triggered countrywide outrage as questions are being raised over the duplicitous nature of a society where sheer savagery lies lurks behind the veil of piousness and morality and nowhere seems to be safe anymore.
The appalling incident has set off a debate on mainstream and social media on behavioural tendencies and the alarming rise in the cases of sexual violence in the country as well as the inability of the law enforcement mechanism to provide security to citizens as even a drive on a motorway can prove to be perilous.
The Punjab government on Thursday claimed that police had rounded up 12 suspects.
Mussarat Cheema, the provincial government’s spokesperson, said a search was underway and the police and other departments were working in close coordination to arrest the assailants.
The woman was travelling with her children when their car stalled in Gujjarpura as it ran out of fuel.
She called her relative and sent him her location on the motorway. When the relative reached the location, he saw the woman panic-stricken and blood stains on her clothes. The windowpanes of her vehicle were also broken.
The woman told the police that she was waiting for her relative to pick her up and her children when two armed men attacked her. One of them struck the car with clubs and the other held them hostage at gunpoint.
The attackers then took her and the children to a nearby forested area where they gang-raped the woman.
Later, they robbed her of valuables which included Rs100,000 cash, two gold jewellery pieces, a bracelet, car registration card and three ATM cards and left her stranded.
Upon receiving the report of the incident, a heavy contingent of police and forensics rushed to the scene.
Police have registered a case on the statement of Sardar Shehzad, a relative of the woman, and have started searching for the assailants with the help of CCTV cameras.
Initial medical reports of the woman have proven that she was raped.
A spokesperson for the motorway police said the incident had not occurred within their limits.
“The area of Karol Ghati and Gujjarpura police station… Ring Road and Lahore-Sialkot Motorway.. they don’t fall within the jurisdiction of the motorway police,” he added.
In a statement, Punjab police chief Inam Ghani confirmed that 12 suspects had been taken into custody so far.
He said that 20 teams of the Lahore police and the CIA, headed by the DIG (investigation), had been formed to investigate the case.
“Police are taking all necessary measures. No stone will be left unturned to provide immediate justice to the victim and her family.”
The Punjab IG further said police teams were working day and night to identify the assailants by gathering DNA evidence, geo-fencing and examining CCTV footage and National Database and Registration Authority records.
He added that over half of the suspects in the case were being investigated and raids were under way to round up dozens of former record holders in such incidents.