Police play down Kasur child porn scandal

RPO Sheikhupura admits police have found video recordings showing child abuse


Akbar Bajwa August 09, 2015
Express News screengrab of clashes between police and villagers near Kasur.

LAHORE:


A day after the country’s biggest child pornography scandal went viral on social media, law enforcers sprang into action to defend themselves and to downplay the sickening child abuse expose. Meanwhile, a committee tasked to investigate the scandal submitted its report to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday.


Speaking at a news conference at Qurban police lines in Lahore, Shehzad Sultan, the regional police officer (RPO) Sheikhupura, said that it was incorrect to call those sodomised on tape as children. All the victims belonging to Hussain Khan Wala village in Kasur district were teenagers.

However, the police official admitted that evidence had been found in the form of video recordings which purportedly show several teenagers being sexually abused.

According to details, a gang of 20 to 25 men had filmed as many as 400 videos of sexual abuse involving at least 280 children belonging to Hussain Khan Wala village. RPO Sultan, however, did not agree that 280 children were sexually abused on tape. “Eight cases had been registered against 15 accused on eight complaints within the month of July,” he claimed.



Claims of exaggeration

The scandal first broke out in the month of June, according to RPO Sultan, prompting a team from Ganda Singh police station to visit the village. The police team made announcements on the loudspeakers of the local mosque, asking villagers to come forward and lodge their complaints, if they have any. “Despite several announcements only eight complainants came forward,” he added. “Had there been 280 cases [of child abuse], there would have been a deluge of complainants.”

RPO Sultan claimed that of the 15 accused in the case, nine have a ‘direct role’ in the crime, while the rest were indirectly involved and no evidence was found against them. About those having a direct role in the crime, he said eight were in police custody, while one had acquired pre-arrest bail from court.

The RPO told journalists that the police had seized from the accused mobile phones containing at least 13 porn video clips, while during interrogation the accused confessed to making around 30 such videos which, according to them, they had destroyed. He said the video clips have been sent to the forensic lab for verification. “Cases have been lodged against the accused under sections 377, 386, 387 and 203 of the PPC,” he added.

Seven-year problem

RPO Sultan said: “Although teenagers had been sexually abused in Hussain Khan Wala village for more than seven years, the families of the victims started reporting to the police towards the end of June 2015.” He added that it was not only the police’s but also the society’s responsibility to stop such crimes and report to the police on time.

Asked about the allegation that the SHO of the concerned police station had tried to quash the cases against those involved in the sex abuse, RPO Sultan said: “The SHO was injured in the recent clashes between the police and the villagers and was therefore replaced by another SHO and not on charges of corruption.”

Report submitted

A committee tasked to investigate the scandal submitted its report to Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday. The report reveals that six members of the child porn ring have been arrested, while a massive manhunt is under way for their accomplices. The committee comprises AIG Arif Nawaz Khan and Commissioner Lahore Abdullah Sunbal.

A few days back, a large number of people had staged a violent protest against police after learning that one of the accused in the case was released. Ensuing clashes between police and protesters had left several people injured. Subsequently, the chief minister took notice of the issue and sought a report on the matter.  He directed the police and administration to immediately arrest all the accused and make sure they are brought to justice.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2015.

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