Over a month after the horrible gang rape of a woman at a motorway, the Punjab Police on Monday finally arrested the main culprit Abid Malhi who had earlier managed to escape from the clutches of law enforcers in at least three previous raids.
Lahore DIG Investigations Shahzada Sultan, who was heading the special team formed to arrest Malhi, confirmed that the suspect has been arrested. PTI leader Dr Shahbaz Gill also took to social media to announce that the police had arrested the accused from Faisalabad.
However, an investigator privy to the development said Malhi was arrested from Mangamandi, Lahore. He will be presented before a court on Tuesday [today] for physical remand.
According to sources, the arrest took place after the Punjab Inspector General Police (IGP) Inam Ghani literally tasked the entire police of the country’s most populous province to nab the accused.
A source told The Express Tribune that the investigators had spotted two suspected phone numbers two days back. Police believed that the suspect was in contact with his family for help, money and food. They tracked these numbers and finally arrested the suspect.
Malhi had earlier foiled his arrest bids multiple times.
After going into hiding, the accused had evaded multiple raids mainly due to police’s ill planning. In the first raid, he was at his house in Qila Sattar Shah, Sheikhupura and fled after seeing a police party. Reportedly, the team that had tracked him had reached before the reinforcements.
The second arrest bid was foiled by him in Kasur when only four policemen raided his hideout. Later on a heavy contingent of police kept on conducting search operations for him. In Nankana Sahib, police had reached very late despite being informed.
A special police team headed by DIG Shahzada Sultan had at least 28 teams – including that of the Crime Investigation Agency (CIA), the Investigation Wing, the Special Branch and the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) –at its disposal with all the resources of Punjab Police to arrest him.
However, frustrated due to the prolonged and repeated failure to arrest the suspect, IGP Inam Ghani had later engaged police of the entire province for the manhunt.
He had deployed each member of the District Security branch to search for him at his every possible hideout throughout Punjab. The IGP had also formed a Rapid Response Force, with a team in each district, with the sole purpose of rushing to arrest on a tipoff about Malhi.
On September 09, Abid Malhi along with his accomplice Shafqat Ali had allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in front of her three children during a robbery bid at the Lahore Sialkot Motorway near Karol Ghati forest where her car had stopped after running out of fuel.
She had been travelling from DHA Lahore to Gujranwala after seeing her parents. She had made a distress call to the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) narrating her ordeal. However, no one reached her for help but the suspected rapist-cum-robbers.
The arrested suspect Shafqat Ali had told the investigators that they were habitual criminals and had gathered to commit a robbery in the carol forest when they observed the car parked at the motorway.
Malhi was carrying a gun. When the woman refused to open the door, Malhi had broken the glass using a stone; made one of her children hostage and forced her to come out.
He had assaulted her first. Later, he had allegedly forced Shafqat Ali to do the same.
Shafqat had also revealed to the police that they were hiding nearby when the Dolphin Squad team had reached the spot. After committing the crime, Shafqat had left to see his parents in Okara and Malhi to his house in Qila Sattar Shah, Sheikhupura.
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