A fifth grade student was allegedly gang raped by a local landlord a few days ago. The girl’s mother was also kidnapped and her father said that he had been receiving death threats for trying to register a case with local police.
According to police officials, Chak No36-DNB Tehsil Mandi Yazman, Bahawalpur resident Sheikh Muhammad Ramzan’s 14-year-old daughter Laiba Bibi was allegedly gang raped by local landlord Muhammad Sajjad and his two friends. “He abducted her on Friday and they also kidnapped her mother. When we finally found them my wife and daughter told me they had threatened to kill us all if we went to the police,” Ramzan said. Ramzan’s wife Basheeran said that they took her and her daughter and locked them up in a private torture cell in the basement of the landlord’s dera. “They chained me up in a room but three of the men took my daughter into another room and raped her,” she told reporters. Police officials recovered the woman and her daughter but set the accused free on Saturday night. “I approached the panchayat but they were unwilling to do anything either,” Ramzan said.
Ramzan said that the panchayat called landlord Arain and his son Muhammad Sajjad did not even listen to his case. “They immediately announced that my family should leave the village as soon as possible and the police are siding with them,” he said. Ramzan said that he had filed an application before the head of Rajkan Police who had registered a case against the accused under Section 542 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) but the police had set the accused free. “The police told us to drop the case. They said they wouldn’t guarantee our safety if we went ahead with it,” Ramzan said.
Ramzan told reporters that a police clerk leading the investigation was the son of one of the panchayat leaders and the police was not getting involved in the matter. “Chaudhary Irshad Muhammad, Sajjad’s cousin was also involved in the rape and he is an influential person. He set up a private torture cell at his Dera and no one will stand against him,” Ramzan said.
“My daughter is not the first one this has happened to. Six other girls have been raped by Sajjad this year but every time the family tried to file a case the landlord tortured them. They are free to abduct any girl from the village because the police will do nothing,” he said.
When contacted, police clerk Mehboob Zia said that this matter was a local issue and the media had no right to get involved. Investigation Officer ASI Muhammad Arshad told The Express Tribune that the accused people had gotten bail before the arrest. “That is why they were not arrested. We did file the case,” he said. “The girl’s parents say she was raped but she does not want a medical test to be done. That tells us she is making this up,” Arshad said.
“The police officials are lying. My daughter asked for a medical test and they are not considering the results,” Ramzan said.
“She has signed a document that she doesn’t want a medical test done. We cannot go against her wishes,” the ASI said. Ramzan approached the Regional Police Officer (RPO) and said that local police was ignoring the issue and providing shelter to the accused. The RPO has asked Bahawalpur district police officer (DPO) to take action against the accused.
Ramzan said that Arshad had gotten his daughter’s signatures claiming that he will record her statement for the arrest of the accused.
*All names have been changed to protect the identity of the victim
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2011.