Karachi: Rape case muddied by claims of 3 parties
KARACHI: The alleged gang rape case of a newly married woman, who was visiting Quaid-e-Azam’s mazaar from the Punjab on March 16, has developed into a war of words between the police, NGO War Against Rape, the Pakistan People’s Party and her family, with each issuing separate statements and stories.
The case was registered at the Brigade Police Station last Sunday, March 16. On Wednesday, March 19, her husband, FH accused the police of covering up for the culprits. He alleged that his father-in-law, who had lodged an FIR over the abduction of his wife, had gone missing and that the police were involved in his mysterious disappearance.
FH made these allegations at a press conference at the Peoples Secretariat. PPP MPA Shehla Reza arranged for a meeting between the survivor and the PPP’s nominated candidate for chief minister Qaim Ali Shah. The woman was clad in a black burqa. She said that the staff of the mausoleum’s park should also be considered involved.
For its part, NGO War Against Rape (WAR) issued a press release Wednesday, alleging that its team was assaulted by members of a religious organization at the Resident Engineer’s Office at the mazaar, when they were trying to help the woman identify her rapists.
The alleged assault came after an employee of the mazaar was allegedly identified by the survivor as one of the rapists out of five, said the press release, adding that he was the one who allegedly kidnapped the woman from inside the mazaar and took her to the storage room at gun point. WAR alleged that up to 200 members of the religious organization surrounded the WAR team and physically assaulted two lawyers and one social worker. WAR said that they wanted to take the woman back to the shelter but were not allowed.
The rape case was referred to WAR from the Police Surgeon’s Office in Karachi, the WAR press release said, from where the girl was brought for her medico-legal examination. Following the examination, she was taken by the police, assisted by the WAR team, to the mazaar on March 17. There, according to WAR, she identified the locked storage room.
For his part, Investigation Officer Sabir Hussain of Brigade police station told Daily Times that at first the survivor’s family was not cooperating and that all three parties were now claiming custody of the woman. “We went to get a medical check-up of the woman at Civil hospital. Her husband requested the doctor for support and asked them for the name of an NGO,” he said. “They asked for custody of the girl, saying she can not give a statement at the moment, and that they would investigate the case on their own.”
The IO said the police were kept waiting outside the mazaar Tuesday for up to seven hours because WAR was not allowing them to go inside, saying the woman was not in a state to identify anyone. There was some confusion over the man she pointed out over some of his physical features and the police did not think that was enough to nominate him the FIR. “The girl is with her family right now in Manghopir.”
According the statement the police said she gave, she was not sure what happened as it was dark; either she was given some sort of liquid or she was shown a TT pistol. “The next thing she remembers is being raped by five men,” the IO said. “On March 17, at 400 a.m. she was left on the road outside the mazaar.”
The chemical examination report will reveal whether she was drugged or not and if she was drugged, what she was given. According to police surgeon Dr Bashir Sheikh, blood samples had been taken and the chemical examination will take at least 15 days. He said that there were no signs of physical abuse but if she was drugged there would not have been any.