By: ASHRAF JAVED AND UMAIMA AHMED
LAHORE – Police yesterday arrested a key suspect of burning a thirteen-year-old girl after a failed rape attempt in Muridke.
The victim caught attention of local news channels after she was brought to the Lahore’s Mayo Hospital with multiple burn injuries yesterday morning.
Her condition was said to be very critical till late night as doctors were struggling to save her life.
On January 7 in Muridke, the girl had escaped a rape attempt by the accused, however, the alleged culprit returned with a gang of people, threw petrol and set her on fire.
The police have registered a first information report (FIR) in Sadar Police Station Muridke and are investigating.
The doctors and staff attending the girl at Mayo Hospital are not very hopeful about her recovery.
A doctor, speaking to The Nation said, “She is in critical condition; all efforts are being made to save her life.
” The girl is in extreme trauma due to which no one is allowed to visit her.The moment she sees any unknown faces she gets hysterical.
The girl’s family comes from a very poor background.
Girl’s father, M Khalid, a daily wager, said, “She was alone at home when Azam Kamboh (the culprit) attacked her.She escaped the attack but soon he returned with a group of men who barged into the house, threw petrol on her and burnt her.Half of her body has been burnt.I was at work, I received a call at 11:30am about the incident and I rushed to home.When I reached there the culprits were trying to escape.They also beat up my wife when she returned home.I thank God that my younger kids escaped the attack.”
“The police have asked me for Rs25,000 if we want the culprit to be arrested.How can I manage that? I can’t give her the required medicines that the doctors are asking to bring, how will I give the police this amount?” he added.
He asked, “Where is the CM Punjab? We have no enemies, so why has this happened to us?”
When asked if he felt he was under threat, he said, “I can’t face anyone in the village now, we will have to leave the place.
My brothers and I have been getting calls to take the FIR back but I will not do that.I may be killed but I will get justice for my daughter.”
When asked about his financial condition, he said he had been injured in the head a few years ago so he could not do any manual labour, or carry anything on his head.So he has very limited earnings.However, he was sending his kids to school so that they become better when they grow up.
The girl’s mother also spoke to The Nation saying, “My daughter’s life has been ruined.
She is in great pain, what should I do to help her to feel better.
For us, our life has been destroyed.” While crying she said she would never forgive the culprits.
“Today it is our daughter; tomorrow it can be another girl, when we will get justice.
We are poor people; we can’t even feed ourselves properly; we don’t have socks to wear in this cold but how these doctors and police expect us to pay for the expensive medicines or pay such heavy amounts to get justice,” she asked.
The people of Muridkae are waiting along with the family of the girl to see if justice will be done in this case, or the case will be consigned to the files under influence of the notables of the area.
Separately, Sheikhupra district police officer Sohail Zafar Chatha told The Nation that the key suspect was being interrogated in connection with the brutal assault.
“The main accused, Azam, is in the lock-up and we are investigating the case thoroughly,” Chatha said.
“According to initial investigations, the girl had developed an affair with the accused.They had some old relationship”.
Sources close to the investigations, however, said that “the victim took the extreme step after being denied justice.”
They claimed that the victim had been running from pillar to post for the last couple of days but nobody bothered to listen to her ordeal.
The dejected girl set herself on fire to protest against the local police.
Sources further said, “Policemen passed insulting remarks as the poor girl approached the local police station to file her complaint.
“She attempted suicide by setting herself on fire because police insulted her instead of taking immediate action against the rapists,” Ahmad said.
According to some media reports, the incident took place in Loharanwali area of Muridke.
The accused also thrashed and punched parents of the girl when they tried to douse fire, sources added.
The incidents of self-immolation involving rape victims are on the rise in the Punjab province.
The physical and sexual violence against women is widespread and the police highhandedness and rude attitude leaves the justice-seeking victims with no option except to commit self-immolation.
In June, a 35-year-old married woman committed self-immolation in district Nankana Sahib after being ‘humiliated’ by policemen.
The woman was thrown out of the police station by the cops because they were backing the alleged accused.
The police behaved the similar way when a college girl had set herself ablaze outside a police station in Muzaffargarh district in March 2014.
Like 18-year-old Amina Bibi of Muzaffargarh, the case of the 13-year-old girl of Muridke has once again presented the real picture of Thana culture in the province.
Last year, two police officers were arrested after Sonia Bibi, who was in her late teens, set herself on fire outside a police station in Muzaffargarh.
She was rushed to a hospital in the central city of Multan, but succumbed to her injuries.