By Ebad Ahmed
Karachi: Kiran*, a 12-year-old girl who was gang-raped a few days ago, appealed to the prime minister and the chief justice of Pakistan on Wednesday to take notice of her case and order the authorities concerned to bring the culprits to justice.
Addressing a press conference with her mother and maternal uncle, she said on three men kidnapped her near her house in Ghagger Phatak area at 4pm on March 15 and her to another place, where they raped her. Later, the rapists threw her near her house while she was unconscious.
One of the rapists she had identified, Imran Kalmati, was arrested by police while two others are still at large.
The girl’s uncle, Altaf Hussain, said the family was being pressured by Kalmati’s relatives to drop the case.
He added that the girl’s father, Munawar Hussain, a drug addict, had been offered a large sum of money and now he was forcing Kiran and her mother to withdraw the case.
“When the girl and her mother refused, he [the girl’s father] beat them up.”
Altaf said the minor and her mother had shifted to his home now, but the girl’s father was repeatedly assuring Kalmati’s family that the case would be withdrawn.
“Kalmati’s family and the girl’s father are now having fake cases registered against me,” Altaf said
“Two of our family members have been arrested over fake charges,” he added. “They want the girl to withdraw the case.”
The girl’s mother told The News that Kalmati lived near their house and had strong political connections.
She added that though her family had complete confidence in the investigation officer of the case, but he too has admitted that he was facing pressure from certain quarters.
An unfortunate norm?
Apathetic or incompetent officials have made it a norm for investigations into incidents of gender-based violence to be mired in controversy. The probe into another of this year’s growing number of rape cases – this one involving a six-year-old girl who was raped, killed and her body dumped in an Orangi Town wedding hall’s water tank – has also fallen victim to the weak justice system.
The girl’s body was found on January 31 and initial medical examination revealed that the child had been tortured and raped.
Though all 19 employees of the wedding hall were rounded up and put behind bars after the incident made waves on television channels, so far, not a single one has been charged as the investigators wait for the “result” of the DNA tests.
According to the girl’s father, Faizur Rehman, on February 17, the investigation officer of the case, SSP Akhtar Farooq, had informed the family that DNA samples of the suspects had been sent to Lahore to ascertain the identity of the rapist and killer, a claim that was also seconded by the Additional IG Mushtaq Ahmed Maher.
However, the hapless father recently told The News that a month after being given assurances that the samples had been sent to a private laboratory in Lahore, he was informed by SSP Farooq that the samples were yet to be dispatched due to some “unforeseen” reasons.
Liaquat Ali Khan, the lawyer representing Rehman, also alleged that the police had failed to conduct proper investigation since the case was first brought to them.
“The day when Rehman filed the missing person’s complaint, no one from the police bothered to check the wedding hall,” said the family’s lawyer. “The father had to take the IO to the crime scene himself.”
The lawyer also claimed the police recorded statements of the girl’s family just to complete the formality and fill up files.
“I fear the way this investigation is progressing, like many others, it is becoming eminent that the suspects who are now in jail on judicial custody, will secure their release through bail.”
With several other of this year’s gender-based violence cases of Karachi in limbo, it is unfortunately quite plausible that, instead of stern action against the perpetrators, we would continue to witness more such appeals from courageous, yet powerless, survivors.