LAHORE: Racecourse Women Police registered an FIR against Shahzad and two unidentified people for raping 14-year-old Shehla Bibi after kidnapping her. But she remains without justice, as the police are allegedly helping the accused; the case investigation officer describes the victim being in a ‘habit of having illicit relations’, a claim refuted by a senior doctor who reviewed the initial medical report.
Shahzad was purportedly a friend of Shehla’s brother-in-law and as per family narrative, the victim’s marriage with her fiancé Raja was being delayed over some trivial issues, which had also caused misunderstandings between the couple.
Mother Perveen Bibi said in the FIR that Shahzad and his accomplices came to their Garhi Shahu home and tempted her daughter to get the issues resolved and clear the way for her marriage with Raja. But the accused took the girl to a house in Model Town, raped her and threw the poor girl in critical condition in front of her relatives’ house in Green Town.
After three days of the FIR, the victim family handed over Shahzad to police after capturing him through area notables. But, the police didn’t mention his arrest in their record and released him within 48 hours. Since the registration of FIR, the victim family has been wandering from pillar to post to get justice but all their efforts have gone in vain mainly because of police’s alleged support to the rapists.
The ‘deliberate non-arrest’ of culprits by the police and the inordinate delay of three months in DNA report by the forensic laboratory are contributing to the immense pressure on victim girl and her family for a ‘compromise’ and change of their statements, it is learnt.
Compounding the sufferings of the victim family, the accused party reportedly barged into their house on Wednesday and tortured the girl and her parents, but the police refused to even consider their fresh application. But the brave girl and her family remain committed to continuing their fight for justice. They, however, have appealed to the Punjab chief minister and human rights activists to assist them in their legal battle against the culprits.
They told that they did try to approach CM Shahbaz Sharif earlier by going to CM Secretariat, but the ‘powerful palace’ of Punjab’s executives failed to properly entertain their request despite the fact that the initial medical examination report proved the committal of heinous crime.
As per their fresh application and a witness Ishaq, accused Shahzad’s father Nazir, along with his accomplices Jamil, Shafqit and Amir, entered the victims’ house and tortured them, besides resorting to aerial firing to frighten them. “The accused is continuously giving life threats to them, but police is not taking action against them,” the family members said.
Quoting their lawyers, the complaint family alleged that former SP (Investigation) of the Civil Lines Division, Adeel Hussain Chandio had ‘ordered’ Investigation Officer (IO) Shamim Akhtar to release the ‘rapist’. But, when approached, the IO rejected this accusation. She however confirmed that Shahbaz was released after being taken into custody, claiming that Police Order 2002 ‘authorised’ police to delay the arrest of accused. But she gave no reply when asked if the arrest of an alleged rapist could be delayed for a long period of three months.
Apparently giving benefit to the accused, the investigation officer claimed the girl was not raped. Quoting the initial medical examination report, the lady detective claimed the girl was in a habit of having illicit relations with others. But when contacted, a senior doctor Muhammad Aleem, who reviewed the initial medical examination, termed the IO claim false.
The IO also held Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) responsible for the delay in completion of their inquiry, saying that police had sent medical swabs three months ago but they were still waiting for the DNA report. However, Dr Aleem is of the view the DNA test and its report can be arranged within an hour’s time. When contacted, a PFSA spokesman refused to share any details about the medical swabs.
A young detective of another police station of the city declared all the claims of the Racecourse Police as false. The officer, who wished not to be named, said it was the duty of police to approach the PFSA again for DNA report. He said that the delay in the test would cause the sample to lose its vitality which could affect the DNA report and thus help the accused.