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September 15, 2020

Molestation on motorway: One suspected assailant nabbed

Top Story

September 15, 2020

Molestation on motorway: One suspected assailant nabbed

LAHORE: In a positive move, the Punjab Police on Monday claimed to have arrested one accused of the Motorway gang-rape, though the main accused Abid Ali is still at large. Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar confirmed the arrest. He said that not only the accused confessed to his crime but his DNA had also matched.

However, the other key information that linked him with the crime scene, his role in the Motorway incident, connection with prime accused Abid Ali were yet to be revealed. The authorities had based their claim on DNA test so far.

The important details of “modus operandi” and crime scene or supporting evidence that linked the accused with the incident at the time of its happening were kept hidden or were yet unknown. Crucial questions are still unanswered like what the suspects were doing in such a desolated area; did they have any hideout in the vicinity they were stationed and noticed the victim; or were they tipped by some internal source after the victim made the call for help; how did they reach the crime scene, on foot or vehicle; how did they leave the vicinity after committing crime, etc.? The details of crime scene had only come forth from the statement of the FIR so far.

The Inspector General of Police, Punjab, Inam Ghani, while sharing the details, said that in the light of scientific analysis and investigation of the evidence found at the crime scene, one of the accused in the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway rape case, Shafqat Ali, son of Allah Ditta, resident of Haroonabad, Bahawalnagar district, has been arrested. He said that the DNA of accused Shafqat Ali matched the DNA obtained from the crime scene. The IGP said that absconding accused Abid Ali would also be arrested soon, as the Punjab Police had been working day and night to arrest him and solve the case.

The accused Shafqat had been arrested a day earlier froma factory in Hujra Shah Muqeem area of Depalpur, Okara, after few important revelations were made by a suspect Waqarul Hassan. Waqar had himself surrendered before the CIA Model Town and denied involvement in the case. He had shared with police that the prime accused Abid Ali had been conducting various bids for the last few months with another suspect Shafqat Ali, a resident of Bahawalnagar. Two other suspects were also taken into custody along with him but were released after initial investigation.

Following the leads, police arrested the accused who confessed to his crime during investigation. His DNA was also taken that also matched with the samples taken from the crime scene.

The confessionary statement of the arrested person also surfaced in the electronic media. In his statement to the police, Shafqat said that he and Abid Ali reached outside Karol Jungle at 12. They had gathered to commit a crime at 10pm.

They made a cigarette of charas. After smoking it, they left for robbing a man who was riding a bike. Meanwhile, they saw a car on the Ring Road and started planning to loot it. When they went upside, they saw a woman inside who had locked herself in the car.

One of them was carrying a gun and the other a club. Abid broke the windowpane and forced the woman to go with them inside the jungle where they snatched golden ornaments from her. Later, they also sexually assaulted her in front of her children.

After the crime, they fled towards Qila Sattar Shah. Shafqat said that it was his first case of sexual assault, while Abid had committed three such crimes earlier.

Meanwhile, Waqar’s brother-in-law Abbas also surrendered to the police and denied any involvement in the incident. Abbas, a resident of Sheikhupura, went to police and said that he was innocent and had never been involved in any case. No FIR was ever registered against him, he said adding that he had known Abid Ali only for work. They both had worked in a steel mill.

News desk adds: Police sources said that Waqarul Hassan and Abbas were not suspects anymore. A third name has come up in the rape case after police interrogated Shafqat, sources told Geo News.

According to Shafqat, a man named Bala Mistri called the prime suspect Abid and him to Lahore. Shafqat told police that all three gathered in Shahdara where they ate Dahi Baray. "All three went to commit the crime, but Bala Mistri turned back halfway," Shafqat told the police, according to sources.

Shafqat also told the police that he and Abid had tried to rape a woman in Sheikhupura a month earlier but police arrived on the scene to prevent the crime, forcing the two to flee. Shafqat told police that they spent a night at Qila Sattar Shah after committing the rape. "The next day, I went to Dipalpur and Abid went to his father at Manga Mandi," he added.

The suspect told the police that he was last in contact with Abid three days ago. Abid and Shafqat were accomplices and carried out dacoities. Both lived in the same neighbourhood in Qila Sattar Shah, a town in Sheikhupura’s Ferozewala tehsil.

Abid's criminal record existed from earlier but Shafqat's was being searched for, reports said, in order to ascertain whether he had been nominated in any FIRs before or not. Shafqat, however, had never been arrested in the past.

Speaking to Geo News, Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan said Abid's father, wife, and other family members had been arrested and claimed that the key suspect "will be arrested in a few hours".