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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Motorway gang-rape case: Why police failed to arrest Abid Ali?

GVS spoke to a senior police officer who, on the condition of anonymity, claimed that the police may face major challenges to arrest Ali if he has left for Balochistan or KPK.

Almost 21 days have passed since the motorway gang-rape tragedy but the Punjab police remained unable to arrest the main suspect, Abid Ali. The suspect has reportedly dodged police three times in various cities of Punjab. GVS spoke to a senior police officer who, on the condition of anonymity, claimed that the police may face major challenges to arrest Ali if he has left for Balochistan or KPK.

On September 9, the woman along with her children was waiting for help on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway after her car ran out of fuel when she was forcefully brought out of the car at gunpoint and gang-raped in the Gujjarpura area on the outskirts of the provincial capital.

The eight special teams — comprising personnel from the Punjab Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and Crime Investigation Agency (CIA), Special Branch, and the Quick Response Force — almost caught him thrice in Kasur, Nankana Sahib, and Sheikhupura but he managed to evade police each time, sources added.

Read More: How to protect women against violence in Pakistan?

So far, police have blacklisted the suspect, blocked his and his wife’s computerized national identity cards (CNICs), detained his wife, daughter, father, brother, and brother-in-law, and arrested accomplice Shafqat Ali.

Challenge for Punjab police

Abid was in Punjab and the police made all possible attempts to nab him, said a senior police officer. “However, all our information was leaked and aired on various TV channels. It benefited Abid and he was able to hide,” he added. The police officer also pointed out that all reports of the raid and his arrest were apparently communicated to Abid even before the raids took place. “Police is responsible for their failure to arrest a rapist but media must be held accountable for its irresponsible coverage of the incident,” the police officer insisted.

Moreover, the police officer revealed the fact that “if Abid has crossed Punjab and went to Balochistan or KPK, there will be a new challenge for the security agencies”. He was of the view that it becomes technically difficult for the police to apprehend a criminal if he joins other gangs in the mountainous area.

Violence against women in Pakistan

It is important to recall that Pakistan ranks 150 out of 153 countries on The Georgetown Institute’s Women, Peace, and Security index ─ among the five worst countries for women in the world. According to 2016 data, 26.8 percent of Pakistani women said they have experienced intimate partner violence.

According to another report of the Aurat Foundation, Pakistan is a country where almost 70% of women are victims of domestic violence, at least once in their lives. This violence is generally committed by their intimate partners – husbands. These figures, however, do not include psychological violence, which is even more common in urban communities.

Read More: Rise of trafficking and domestic violence against women: How to stop it?

One in every three women in Punjab aged between 15 and 64 years has suffered violence, according to a survey conducted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The survey funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) was the first of its kind in Pakistan in collaboration with the Bureau of Statistics and Punjab Commission on the Status of Women.