Calls grow for removal of Lahore CCPO

PML-N says Umar Sheikh’s controversial remarks affecting investigation into gang rape case

Our Correspondent September 11, 2020


Lahore’s Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umar Sheikh landed in hot waters on Friday over his highly controversial remarks about the victim of gang rape on the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway the other night, with several opposition lawmakers demanding his removal from the post.

The Lahore CCPO drew trenchant criticism from almost every quarters after he pontificated on Thursday that the victim had failed to take due precautions before setting out for her journey, in remarks to a private TV channel.

“What surprises me is that being a mother of three [young] children and the only driver [unaccompanied by an adult male], why would she not take the GT Road that has a population around it? If nothing else, she should have checked her fuel…” Sheikh told the channel.

Marriyum Aurangzeb, spokesperson for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), while speaking at a press conference on Friday, lashed out at Sheikh for his remarks which represented a "mindset that shames a rape victim".

"What does this mean? It means that in Pakistan, 110 million women do not have any protection … It means that right now in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, there is no writ of law, there is no law and order and there are no moral and social values," he said.

Demanding the CCPO’s removal from the post, she said that the Sheikh’s statement encouraged the culprits. “Saying that the fault lies with that mother who was gang-raped… is affecting the investigation,” Aurangzeb told reporters.

She stated that Sheikh's remarks contradicted Article 9 of the Constitution, which dictates that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty in accordance with law. “It is the height of injustice that the entire state, government, prime minister and Punjab chief minister are silent.”

Aurangzeb is not the only opposition lawmaker, demanding Sheikh’s removal. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman said that she was furious that “police officials have had the nerve to ask why the lady was out at that hour”. “They need to be dismissed,” she tweeted.

Human Minister Rights Shireen Mazari, had immediately denounced the CCPO's comments on Thursday and said that no one in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would defend the indefensible statement of the CCPO.

"Asad Umar defended my statement,” Mazari said. “Shahzad Akbar categorically conveyed the entire federal cabinet's strong displeasure at CCPO's statement,” she added. "There can never be a defence of CCPO's attempts to rationalise rape — never."

Earlier, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif slammed the government ministers and the Punjab chief minister for rushing to “support and implicitly justify the conduct of a police official". Also on Thursday, media reports said, Punjab lawmaker Hassan Murtaza also demanded Sheikh's removal.

Meanwhile, a group of lawyers had also submitted a complaint to Punjab police chief Inam Ghani, asking him to suspend the CCPO and force him to apologise. They had also sent a letter to the Punjab chief minister, demanding Sheikh’s removal from his post.

Responding to the calls, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat said on Friday that the government was aware of the demand for the ouster of the CCPO but stressed that it was the chief minister’s prerogative to remove an official.

"The government is aware of this demand [for Sheikh's removal], the chief minister is aware. This is the prerogative of the chief minister," Basharat told reporters during a visit to the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway. "I don't agree with his (CCPO) statement and that it was inappropriate.”



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