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Police helpless to arrest acid thrower

ISLAMABAD: Sindh police told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights on Thursday that they could not take action against Malik Bilal Mustafa Khar for throwing acid on his deceased wife Fakhra Yunus after the complainant witnesses to the incident changed their testimonies in the court.

Additional Inspector General (AIG) Police Sindh Falak Khurshid contended before the committee, which met here with MNA Riaz Fatyana in the chair, that “witnesses, who identified the acid thrower as Malik Bilal Mustafa Khar while registering the FIR, changed their statements in the court.

Even Fakhra’s brother, who himself was burnt in the incident, changed his testimony. The court could not hand down a sentence and Malik Bilal Mustafa Khar walked free,” Mr Falak said.

He informed the meeting that Fakhra was living in an apartment with a relative after she left her husband. “Bilal Khar traced Fakhra and went to take her with him. At resistance, he threw acid on her face. Her brother Irfan Malik also received burn injuries,” AIG Sindh said.

The committee members, taking exception to the poor investigation into the case, recommended that government should take it up again so that prerequisites of justice might be fulfilled.

“It should be revisited so that the perpetrator of the heinous crime may be brought to book and the crime of acid throwing may be prevented,” said MNA Dr Attiya Inayatullah speaking on behalf of women parliamentarians of the committee.

MNAs observed that the tragic incident did not just give the country a bad name worldwide but spread fear among the Pakistani women.

In 2001, the court declared Bilal Khar as an absconder. Later, he was arrested from Muzafargarh. However, he could not be prosecuted as it appeared that the two sides had reached a settlement.

Riaz Fatyana got perturbed to know that neither an appeal against the acquittal was filed nor the culprit was brought to justice. He remarked that life and property was not safe in Pakistan.

“Police lack sense of responsibility, will and capacity. From top to bottom anyone can be bought. The situation points to a total anarchy in the country and loss of people’s faith in the institutions,” Riaz Fatyana said directing Ministry of Law to make amendments where necessary to provide protection to witnesses and complainants.

Meanwhile, the committee gave ten days to DPO Sheikhupura Haider Ashraf to submit a report on the gang rape of a student by the police officials.

The DPO said that a first-year student was picked up by the police officials when she left her academy for home. He said more than 200 constables were interrogated. During the process, constable Saqib confessed to the crime identifying two civilians, Irfan and Khursheed, as his accomplices who were in police custody and yet to be identified by the victim.

The committee observed that it had taken up several cases in past meetings on issues of human rights violations by police.

“Police portray an impression of enemies and not friends of the people especially Punjab and Sindh police,” said Riaz Fatyana.The members suggested that Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) should revisit the doctrine of blood money and reconsider it in the light of Ijtehad.

Taking into account deteriorating law and order situation and failure of law enforcement agencies to apprehend the criminals, the committee summoned interior minister Rehman Malik and secretary Interior in the next meeting.

Dawn

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