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Rape victim’s family accuses police of coercion

Rape victim’s family accuses police of coercion

ISLAMABAD: Nizam Mai, the mother of the rape victim who torched herself in front of a Muzaffargarh police station and later died of her injuries, said on Wednesday she was being coerced to settle the matter through a deal.

“We are scared to death. We cannot live in Lundi Pitafi village any longer,” Nizam Mai told Dawn after attending a Supreme Court hearing in her case.

She and her husband accused Aslam, a local police officer, and Ramzan Sindhi, an influential man of their area, of providing shelter to the accused and pressurising the victim’s family to withdraw the case.

Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had taken suo motu notice of death of the first-year student who set herself ablaze in Bet Mir Hazar area, about 40km from Muzaffargarh, in protest against a police report which helped her alleged rapist win freedom on bail.

According to media reports, the 18-year-old student was returning home from college on Jan 5 when the accused, with the help of four accomplices, allegedly raped her in a deserted area. A criminal case was registered but it was cancelled despite the statement of the victim and the evidence available on record.

On March 14, the victim, her mother and other relatives mounted a protest in front of the police station. The college student committed self-immolation and was rushed to the Nishtar Hospital in Multan where she later died.

On Wednesday, the victim’s mother Mai and father Ghulam Farid appeared before the court and submitted that they felt insecure in their village because some police officials who were protecting the accused were exerting pressure on them.

Mr Farid said the police officials who were trying to protect the accused should be brought to justice and requested the court to provide protection to his family.

After listening to grievances of the victim’s parents, Punjab’s Acting Advocate General Mustafa Ramday assured the court that he would get in touch with the District Police Officer of Muzaffargarh to ensure that all the accused were brought to justice. He said the parents of the victim and other members of her family would be provided protection as and when needed.

The police officer accused of carrying out partisan investigations had been sent behind bars, he said, and the DSP who had verified the report of innocence of the accused had been nominated in a separate case registered on March 15 at Bait Mir Hazar police station under sections 201/322 of the PPC read with section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and section 5-C of Police Order, 2002. However, the DSP was on a pre-arrest bail, Mr Ramday said.

He said that investigations into the tragedy were still under way. The investigations would be finalised after the receipt of a report from the Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory in Lahore.

The court later adjourned further proceedings till April 21 and ordered the inspector-general of Punjab Police to ensure that the final report about the investigations was submitted by then.

Dawn

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