LAHORE – The culture of raping women in the vicinity of police stations has flourished in the last year or so, so much so that now female victims are even reluctant to visit these for seeking justice, reveals a survey conducted recently by TheNation.
The number of reported cases of a female victim’s rape by policemen increased four-fold to 20 in 2011, from just five in 2010; while 10 such cases have so far been reported in this year.
Nabeela Shah*, a victim, said that she would prefer to stay at home like other female victims rather than reporting to police, because “most policemen have now themselves become the worst criminals – rapists”.
The uniformed ‘protectors’, already notorious for wrongdoings of different types, are being increasingly accused of sexually harassing female seekers of justice. This may not be a coincidence and one could read between the lines that those police officers accused of such heinous crimes have never been given the punishment they deserved.
On Thursday last, four cops of Factory Area Police Station were held on charges of allegedly gang raping a girl in front of her brother, after he failed to provide them with illegal gratification amounting to Rs50,000. Surprisingly, the authorities concerned are tight-lipped about this incident, which will also encourage other policemen to follow in their footsteps.
The data collected by this scribe show that – after an incident of a female victim’s rape by policemen is reported in the media – departmental inquiries are marked, the offence is established and accused cops are dismissed, but only to be restored once the situation normalises.
SSP Discipline and Inspection (D&I) Shariq Kamal Siddique probably recommended permanent dismissal for Sub-Inspector Ajmal, who is accused of raping at least two female victims, due to this very reason since he feared that the notorious rapist would be restored using his connections.
Fatima* of Okara approached Amjal, who was then deputed at Shera Kot Police Station, to seek justice after being allegedly raped by her relative Bashir. “The sub-inspector raped her many times promising to provide her ‘justice’, and he even asked his colleague Sub-Inspector Muhammad Nawaz to round up Bashir since the woman was special for him,” said the inquiry officer concerned on condition of anonymity, adding that Sub-Inspector Nawaz, however, discharged the FIR (85/12), on which Fatima approached the authorities concerned and told them that she was also raped by policemen.
The first inquiry officer, DSP Nasir Bajwa, also supported Ajmal, but the SSP (D&I) established that the accused sub-inspector had also raped another woman Mehreen* at Nawankot Police Station when she went there to seek justice after her brother was arrested by police. Subsequently, an FIR (276) was registered against him and he was first suspended by the Anti-Corruption Establishment and later dismissed by the SSP (D&I).
SHO Baghbanpura Police Station’s Kaar-e-Khas Ali, along with his uniformed accomplices including Shahbaz and others, gang raped two girls, who were victims of an armed robbery, in the vicinity of the police station in 2011. Ironically, the police booked the victims instead of taking action against the accused policemen; former SP Cantonment Imtiaz Sarwar booked the girls on charges of facilitating anti-social elements.
But the culture of letting such criminals go unpunished is not without consequences? The Police Department received a shock on coming to know about a case of sexual harassment at Qila Gujjar Singh Police Lines.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Liaquat Ali, personal staff officer to former SP Headquarters Munir Ahmed Zia Rao, was found involved in exploiting female constables Ghazala, Haleema, Nadira, etc.
As mentioned earlier, such heinous crime increased many fold in 2011, especially in Central Punjab, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, where a police constable raped a woman in the vicinity of Tarnol Police Station. Similarly, Constable Toseer Abbas made an attempt to rape a Chinese national (name withheld for privacy), who was working as manager of a project in Pakistan, in the vicinity of Westridge Police Station, Rawalpindi.
Two Constables Wajid and Zohaib, of Qila Gujjar Singh Police Station, gang raped a woman Tasleem* who had come to pay homage at the shrine of of Bibi Pakdaman. Similarly, ASI Miraj Din of Harbanspura Police Station, along with his four accomplices, gang raped a girl named Safina* and the department again stood by the accused cop.
An intermediate student Jamila* was gang raped by several police officers of Sheikhupura police on March 18. Later, the victim was mentally torched to such an extent that she also attempted suicide.
“Political wisdom and media shows on morality can minimise such incidents. The Police Department always takes strict action against such black sheep and provides justice to the victims,” said Punjab IGP Jahi Habib-ur-Rahman via his director public relations, adding that the department would never patronise such ‘criminals’.
Lahore CCPO Muhammad Aslam Tareen completely ruled out such happenings in Lahore. “I will immediately dismiss all such cops and will put them behind the bars on severe charges. The department has no soft corner for such policemen.”
— Additional reporting by Mustafa Nazir Ahmad
* Names changed for privacy