An anti-terrorism court in Lahore on Tuesday sent Abid Malhi, the prime suspect in the motorway gang-rape case, to jail on a 14-day judicial remand, reported Dawn. In addition, the same court also handed over Malhi’s accomplice, Shafqat, to the police on physical remand till October 28.
“The accused was brought to court under tight security, with a black hood covering his face that was removed during the proceedings. During the hearing, Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta approved a request by the prosecution to hold an identity parade of the suspect and directed that the process be completed as soon as possible” Dawn confirmed.
A woman was raped and robbed in the presence of her children just last month on the Islamabad – Lahore Motorway. The woman was on her way back home when she ran out of fuel and was forced to summon help. Unfortunately, the authorities failed to reach the area well in time. Meanwhile, the woman became a victim of rape and subsequent robbery.
PM Khan calls for ‘chemical castration’ of rapists
Subsequent to the motorway gang rape, PM Khan called for the public hangings and chemical castration of rapists. “They [rapists] should be given exemplary punishments. In my opinion, they should be hanged at chowks [intersections],” said Khan.
“The way murders are graded as first degree, second degree and third degree, rape should also be graded this way, and the first-grade rapists should be castrated and be made incapable completely.”
— Waqar Zaka (@ZakaWaqar) September 9, 2020
Khan’s three-tier draft bill
On September 16, Khan announced that his administration was preparing a three-tier draft bill that will include the registration of sex offenders, policing, and exemplary punishment. “This is to instill fear so that when people try to ruin someone’s life, they should be aware of the consequences,” he told lawmakers.
“Convicting a sex offender is not an easy job due to the complicated process of presenting evidence and witnesses,” Khan said. “The legislation will contain guarantees to protect witnesses.”
Pakistan debates tough punishments
After several high profile rape cases, inclusive of the motorway gang rape, the Pakistani public at large has been debating over whether or not public hangings are the best policy of dealing with rapists.
Human and child rights campaigners who oppose the death penalty are urging reforms in the police and judiciary and an increase in awareness campaigns for parents, children, and communities as the best approach to fighting and preventing sexual abuse.
Punishment for gang-rape
Under the Pakistan Penal Code, if proven guilty of rape by a court of law, a person can be sentenced to 10 to 25 years in prison. Gang rape, however, carries a death sentence or life imprisonment for each offender.
Of course, provided PM Khan’s draft bill is successful, chemical castration may just be the newest addition to this penalty. Time can only tell how long this bill shall take to come into action.
How was Malhi arrested?
National news channels yesterday revealed that Abid Malhi, the prime suspect in the motorway gang-rape case, was arrested from Manga Mandi after 33 days of manhunt by the Punjab police, Counter Terrorism Department and Special Branch.
DIG Investigation Lahore Shahzada Sultan, who also heads the JIT, confirmed the arrest. The Punjab government spokesman Dr. Shahbaz Gill also confirmed Malhi’s arrest on twitter. He said Malhi was arrested from Faisalabad.
“The police had been following him, his relatives and any other person he had been in contact with. Plain-clothes cops had been deployed for reconnaissance of his relatives. Their communication was also being monitored” claimed Gill.
“Investigators spotted two phone numbers. Police doubted the suspect was in contact for help, money and food. They followed these numbers and started waiting for the suspect to appear. As the suspect showed up, police nabbed him. Investigators are busy investigating him. He will be produced before the court on Tuesday (today) for physical remand,” he added.