The self-immolation of an 18-year-old in Muzaffargarh, who said she was raped by a relative on January 5, remained the main topic of discussion at the provincial assembly on Friday.
Speaker on the matter, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan criticised activist Farzana Bari for “defaming Pakistan in the world by spreading misconceptions”.
The session had resumed at 11 am with Deputy Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani in the chair.
Sanaullah said Bari had defamed the country abroad, and misconstrued the facts.
Sanaullah said the 18-year-old, who succumbed to burns on Friday, had not been raped.
He said he would present a comprehensive report on the incident on Monday.
He said Bari was always looking for an opportunity to defame the country and its government.
He said the alleged rapist, whom Bari had been calling a feudal lord’s son, was actually a common man and a relative of the victim.
“Ms Bari should avoid making up stories,” he said.
He said he had been shocked by the incident, but it was not fair to use it to describe a country.
He said four masked men had stopped the girl on January 5 on her way home. He said the mask on one of the faces had slid off and she had recognised the man as her sister’s brother-in-law.
He said the girl and her parents had said in the complaint that she had not been raped and that an attempted rape FIR was registered.
Sanaullah said the suspect had obtained a bail before arrest from a court, but was included in police investigation. He said during the investigation, the girl’s two sisters and an aunt had told police that she and her father had falsely implicated the man.
They said her father and the suspect had had a dispute over money, and the matter was before a court.
Sanaullah said that the investigation officer in the attempted rape case was changed by the Muzaffargarh district police officer on the girl’s father’s request after he expressed apprehensions following the suspect’s bail. A senior officer was then appointed to investigate the case.
During the investigation, he said the suspect had presented evidence that he had not been on the crime scene. The evidence was accepted. That was when, the girl set herself on fire.
He said the video footage aired on television showed that though there were several people around the girl, no one had tried to stop her.
The law minister said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had sent an additional inspector general to probe the matter. He said those found guilty would not be spared.
He asked the opposition and activists to discourage self-immolation attempts as a way to highlight a cause.
The opposition staged a token boycott and accused the police of failing to establish law and order.
Minister for Communication and Works Malik Tanvir Aslam replied questions about his department in the question hour. The annual reports on Punjab Pensions Fund for years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were also presented.
The session will resume on Monday afternoon.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2014.