LAHORE: Police have arrested 14 suspects in the alleged gang-rape of a woman near the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway in the limits of Gujjarpura police station.
Inspector General Punjab Inam Ghani has constituted a six-member special investigation team to investigate the incident. DIG Investigations Shahzada Sultan has been appointed chairman, while SSP Investigations Zeeshan Asghar, RO Special Branch Jahanzeb Nazir, RO CTD Naseebullah Khan, SP CIA Asim Iftikhar and in-charge Gender Crimes Civil Lines are members of the team. The chairman can get help from forensic team during investigation.
Twenty police teams have started investigating the incident. Police also received medico-legal report of the victim which confirmed rape. Swabs have also been sent to the Forensic Science Agency for chemical examination and DNA.
Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Umar Shaikh said that urban and rural policing techniques are being used to catch the culprits. The DNA profiles of the 14 suspects have been sent to the forensic laboratory and four teams have been constituted to look into the case and round up the culprits involved in the incident. The 14 suspects were arrested through geo-fencing within the radius of five kilometres from motorway.
Umar Shaikh said that the culprits had bled when they broke the car’s window. He said that police had collected blood samples and sent them to the laboratory for tests. He further said that there were only two villages in the forest on the left side of the motorway and one on its right side, hence, the culprits were within three to five kilometres of the scene of the crime.
Sources familiar with the investigation said that the victim did not understand what was going on around her. In the beginning, she did not speak (about what happened). She was in shock, traumatised. It took her a while to gather strength and gave clear description of the incident and the culprits. She told the police that the two attackers, aged 30 to 35 years, were clad in shalwar-kameez and had brown complexion. She said she could identify them as they were unmasked. It is pertinent to mention that the woman, who was stunned after the incident, had asked policemen to shoot her as she didn’t want to live anymore. Then she requested them not to highlight the case as she didn’t want her family to know the tragedy but nobody paid heed to her. The woman had brought her children to the country from France to let them study in Islamic environment.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Punjab Inam Ghani also took notice of the incident and said that prevention of incidents of sexual violence and abuse against women and children was one of the top priorities of the Punjab Police. He said 20 teams of Lahore Police and CIA, headed by DIG Investigation, are working day and night to arrest the gang-rape accused with the help of DNA evidence, geo-fencing, existing CCTV footage and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) records from the spot. He held a session with the media at the Central Police Office and also talked to a private television channel in this regard. He claimed that the police had gathered evidence, which would lead to the culprits.
"We have located the village from where the suspects belong," he claimed. "Right now, we have a very good clue which will lead us to the suspects directly. However, we cannot share it with the media," Ghani added. He said the police had narrowed down the list of suspects to 70 people who fall in the same age bracket as the rapists and who have a past criminal record.
He said the woman's children, who were forced to witness the horrific crime, were now with their family, who have been assured that they will be provided all kinds of support. Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar took notice of the gang-rape incident on the Motorway and sought a report from the IGP Punjab.
He said the criminals deserve strict punishment under the law. “I am personally monitoring the progress made in this case and the IGP has been directed to early arrest the criminals,” the CM said. The investigation is being done scientifically and the perpetrators would be given strict punishment, he assured.
Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the rape case and the rape-and-murder of a 5-year-old girl in Karachi, urging authorities to take strict action against the culprits. A tweet from the Prime Minister's Office said that PM Imran had taken "strict notice" of the incidents, stating that protection of women is the government's top priority and responsibility.
The prime minister has sought reports on the two incidents from the relevant IGs and urged the government to make existing laws effective to provide protection to women and children.