By: Umar Cheema
ISLAMABAD: An investigation into Kasur child abuse scandal sifts facts from fiction bringing to fore the face behind the case and how the media was maneuvered to amplify the tragedy that was being exploited for settling scores on a property dispute.
A Joint Investigation Team drawing representation from the police, IB and ISI confirms that the child abuse occurred unattended in the village Hussain Khanwala finalizing 23 sodomy-related cases denying the media reports that estimated the number of victims more than 284.
The number of video clips was also exaggerated. The report said media persons claimed with full confidence they were in possession of clips ranging between 284 and 400 but failed to back their claim with evidence when asked for proof.
The role of media has not been very responsible and the JIT is in no position to comment any further on this.
“However, there is hardly any doubt that the hype created by the media had negative undertones for both national and international audience,” it said. One of the key campaigners against this abuse, Mobeen Ghazanvi, had himself been involved in homosexual activities, the report reveals.
Besides, he abducted a girl in 2012 and was provided shelter for a few months in Islamabad by Abdullah Gul (son of late Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul) who had also connected him with police officials in Kasur for an FIR in sodomy case under inquiry, well before this issue made the headlines, according to the JIT report.
Mobeen, author of three books on Hamid Gul (primarily collection of his interviews and speeches) had been pretending to be an official of ISI in the vicinity, according to the report.
The first issue was reported to the police in October 2014 but the case was closed by use of petty bribe to police and a compromise paper by the complainant in lieu of some money.
Later, in April/May 2015 when bulks of videos were leaked, no complainant came forward to lodge an FIR till July 1, 2015.
The homosexual activities in the village were going on for quiet some time but the campaign to highlight them was intensified following a property dispute with regard to the auction of government land allotted to one Master Zafar with whom the accused family was closely tied.
While Mobeen and Ahmed Din, the opponents of Zafar, moved an application for cancellation of the lease, Zafar obtained a stay order. Meanwhile, one serving Major Zahid Iqbal posted in Border Area Committee was allotted this land and another stay order by Zafar prevented this attempt.
It was in this background that the campaign on abuse scandal initiated after Mobeen managed to acquire some video clips from a cousin of the principal accused Haseem Aamer. The JIT’s two-month-long investigation based on interviews of more than 450 persons of the vicinity including victims, witnesses, complainants, people from the area and police, has found that most of the villagers came to know about the scandal in May 2015.
“However, it appears that child abuse and video taping of these horrible acts was in broad knowledge of the villagers for quite some time but the issue was not addressed properly,” it said.
Most of the videos are quite old, at least 3-4 years, and the same was also confirmed when they were compared with the present appearance of the victims. “The number of videos procured from all the sources (i.e. through police, victims and private sources) are only 47….Hence, the figure of 284 and 400 clips that initially was being reported in the media and claimed by those leading the campaign, was wrong,” according to the JIT report.
Mobeen and Sultan, who were representing the victims, have dubious characters. Mobeen remained associated with Jamaat-ud-Dawa in the past and is now affiliated with Abdullah Gul’s party, Anjuman-i-Naujawanan-i-Millat.
In 2012, he abducted a girl from a neighboring village and was given shelter by Abdullah Gul for a few months. The matter ended on a compromise and the girl was returned. The cases against him regarding fraudulent activities were also registered.
“During the probe by the JIT, his involvement in homosexual/deviant sexual acts has also come to light,” the report further reads. Another lead campaigner of this case, Sultan, is commonly known as “Sultana Thug” as he reportedly owes huge sums of money to the farmers of the area, according to the JIT report.
Deploring the role of local political representatives, the report said they had not only failed to avert the situation and handle it properly but also remained ignorant about the happening. Malik Rasheed Ahmed MNA did intervene but only at later stage arranging a meeting of the agitators with the Punjab chief minister.
Regarding the failure of police to fix the issue, the report has held to account the junior officials demanding actions against them. It has however exonerated the senior officers but added that “they may be formally warned on the aforementioned shortcomings.”
Describing the shortcomings of police, the report has attributed them to the task they are not supposed to perform as they distract their attention from the main duties. It said the police officials were being used for other departments’ duties such as checking of commodities/vegetable prices, flood duties, dengue prevention etc.
“The JIT is of considered opinion that the police may be allowed to do their professional crime prevention/detection duties than keeping them busy in chores for which full-fledged departments already exist,” the report said.