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‘Rape victims’ sacrificed on altar of tradition

VEHARI, July 26: The elders of the families of two ‘gang-rape’ victims of Chak 177/WB and of the accused are reportedly trying to hush up the matter to escape law, while police say they can’t intervene unless a formal complaint is filed.

The victims were recovered, on sessions court orders, from the outhouse of a landlord after a week-long detention to which they were subjected on the orders of a panchayat. After their recovery, one of the girls said in the court they were subjected to gang-rape during their detention. The court had asked the girls to lodge the complaint with Mitroo police who would be bound to take action on it. However, according to the police, they had received no application from the girls or their families so far.

A relative of the girls said requesting anonymity that the families of the accused and the victimsÂ’ were closely related and the application moved in the court did not mention the involvement of panchayat in the detention. He said it was a tradition in the both families that mutual disputes were decided through a panchayat comprising ‘elders’.

He said the girls’ detention and their subsequent gang-rape was an outcome of ‘kidnap’ of sister of the accused 15 days back. He said the incident was not reported to police and a panchayat decided that two girls from the offenders’ family would remain with the accused till the return of the kidnapped girl. The girls, he said, were handed over to Mehr Maqsood.

He said later Fida Hussain, brother of one of the detained girls, moved the court under section 491 (CRPC) for their recovery without citing the panchayat’s verdict.

Mitro police SHO Rashid Malik said the elders of the families were not interested in involving police in the matter so no complaint was lodged by them.

Rana Sajid, a senior lawyer, said according to law the police could not take action without a complaint. He said Fida in his application filed in the session court only sought recovery of girls.

DPO Asher Hameed said the decision of any panchayat was illegal under the law. However, the police was bound to act only on a complaint, he added. He said according to his information, both the families were trying for a ‘patch-up’.
Source: Dawn
Date:7/27/2008

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