MUZAFFARGARH - DR KHALID CHAUDHRY/AGENCIES - Police on Thursday arrested six of the nine persons accused of assaulting a 40-year-old widow on orders from a local jirga last Friday to settle an honour dispute in Radiwala village of Muzaffargarh district.
A case was registered under sections 354/1, 365, 376, and 511 of the Pakistan Penal Code after Fazlaan Bibi lodged a formal complaint with the Daira Din Panah police station on Thursday.
The arrested persons included Ghulam Yasin, Munshi Muhammad Nawaz, Faiz Bakhsh, Karim Bakhsh, Abid, and Faiz Azeem. More raids are being made for arrest of Kareem, Abid and Saeed who are still at large.
Police official Asadullah Khan said the victim was in a state of distress when she reported the incident to police on Thursday. "At least three men raped her," said Khan, who is investigating the case.
According to medico-legal officer Nusrat Rehman, the widow was not raped even by a single person. “The accused tore her clothes and disrobe her," she said, citing a witness statement.
“We are investigating the allegations levelled by the complainant,” District police chief Usman Akram Gondal said, "We cannot confirm the offence immediately."
Fazlaan was made to strip in a room to settle an honour dispute, where her brother Ajmal Channar was caught in a compromising position with Ruqaiyya Bibi, wife of Abdul Majeed.
Majeed then called his relatives to his house and wanted to reach the police station, but Munshi Muhammad Nawaz advised the issue be settled within the Channar tribe. He also suggested they penalized Ajmal's widowed sister to settle the score.
According to SHO Ramzan Shahid, Ajmal Channar alleged that his sister was subjected to rape by nine persons on orders from the jirga, headed by Munshi Nawaz. The rape took place on January 24 when five men locked the widow inside a room while the jury waited outside.
Radiwala is a hamlet of 26 to 30 houses and is located in south Punjab. All the families living here are poor.
District Coordination Officer Farasat Iqbal, who visited the village, said it was true that a local jury had assembled and the woman had been thrashed and made to strip naked. He did not confirm the allegation of gang rape, but said he ordered the district police officer to make a special inquiry team.
Nevertheless, villagers Shabbir and Ghulam Hussain said Fazlaan did not want to become the complainant and that police forced her to lodge an application against the accused persons.
Investigation officer Asadullah Khan said that while the FIR was filed under charges of ‘attempted rape’, the victim alleged she was already raped, and only filed the said FIR under pressure from police.
SHO Ramzan Shahid also admitted the victim’s family was not interested in lodging a complaint. He further said the medical reports showed the woman was not raped.
Local sources said the rape was ordered to avenge illicit relation of Ajmal Channar with Ruqaiyya Bibi. The 40-member jirga had decided the widow be punished for her brother's deeds. The father and his two sons carried out the 'punishment.'
The accused later threatened the widow they would kill her if she raised her voice against them.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took a notice of the incident and ordered the authorities concerned to immediately arrest the culprits.
Also Mukhtar Mai vehemently condemned the rape.