LAHORE - More families are coming up to speak out about their ordeal in the country’s biggest child abuse scandal involving 284 victims, despite the best efforts of police and local administration to suppress their voice and deny that any abuse took place.

At least 12 more victims on Saturday filed applications with police against the abusers in the hope of getting justice from the administrative and judicial system that failed them for 10 long years.

Some others however demanded trail at military courts, as no more arrests were made in the village where two powerful beasts ran a gang of around 25 youth to record around 400 videos of girls and boys being forced to have sex.

“We don’t trust the police. We demand Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif to help us get justice,” demanded the mother of a 12-year-old girl, who was abused and filmed by the gang in Hussain Khanwala village of Kasur district.

Taking The Nation’s exclusive story as a lead, almost all TV channels kept focusing on this issue the whole day yesterday amid a national feeling of shame, humiliation and outrage. But no big action came to be seen on part of the powers that be.

Interestingly, no judge of any court took any suo motu notice of the issue, showing that days of judicial activism are over for good in ‘the larger national interest’ and for the sake of country’s ‘highly-valued democratic set-up’.

The Punjab government ‘took notice’ of the matter and said the culprits would be taken to task, a standard practice in such situations.

The relatives of the victims insist that the police and the elected representatives of the area are protecting the culprits. But the police and the MPs deny the allegation.

Defying a ban on gatherings and protests, around two dozen protesters came up with two banners to show to The Nation’s cameras. “We all will put ourselves to fire if the chief minister did not help us get justice immediately!” one of the banners read. The other carried the demand to send the case to military courts.

“We have filed 12 fresh applications with the district police to get registered criminal cases against the abusers. The police have received applications but are reluctant to lodge FIRs,” said the brother of a victim.

The police have already registered at least seven cases against three dozen accused on the complaint of seven victims. The police said that investigators have so far seen 40 to 50 videos.

A 50-year-old villager said the local politicians of ruling PML-N were pressing the victims to reconcile with the accused and withdraw cases. He said the police were also harassing them in the name of security, as hundreds of policemen are deployed there to stop them from taking out protest rallies.

According to villagers, the police are part of the problem because they were protecting the abusers. A DSP was posted in the same police circle from where he was suspended from service by the chief minister on the charges of negligence two months ago.

The father of a victim child alleged that the district police officer accepted a huge bribe and he was lying to cover up the biggest child abuse scandal in the country’s history. “We time and again visited the DPO office and the politicians but they even did not bother to listen to our ordeal,” he said. As the victims approached the police station, the policemen humiliated the complainants instead of taking action on their complaints, he added.

But the more the police are trying to hush up the scandal, the greater the victims are speaking out against the reign of terror and humiliation. “We will not call off protests and agitation unless the criminals are brought to justice,” vowed the villagers.

The Punjab police department still remains in a state of denial over the allegations of collusion. A government committee on Saturday informed the chief minister that six accused have been arrested and raids are being carried out to nab another three nominated in the case. The report also said that the protestors had caused injuries to some 20 officials.

Punjab’s leading child protection official on Friday called for a federal inquiry into this “largest-ever child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history”. Most of the victims are under 14 but include a six year old boy who was forced to perform a homosexual act and a 10 year old schoolgirl who was filmed being molested by a 14 year old boy.

There are conflicting views about the possibility of the victims getting justice. A former judge of the Lahore High Court, Justice Mian Aftab Farrukh said that unfortunately the victims may be subjected to a medical test to prove the allegation. And if testing was not carried out, under currents laws even the court would prove unable to convict the accused.

However, some lawyers are of the opinion that video is enough admissible evidence under the law and the victims or police can produce the same to establish the charge.

Justice Farrukh said that if some abused children offer themselves for medical examination and then say that others had also been abused, the case may get going. As for the allegation that police or the elected representatives were protecting the accused, Farrukh said a complaint could be lodged with the magistrate against such people.

Flanked by Kasur district police officer, Sheikhupura Regional Police Officer addressed a news conference on this scandal at his office Saturday night and admitted the child abuse cases took place from 2007 to 2013.

The police officers forced the reporters to close down cameras when they threw volley of questions about the scandal. The officers also admitted that since the cases were registered years after the incidents took place, there are slim chances for evidence collection through DNA.

Provincial Home Minister Shujaa Khanzada on Saturday admitted the gang had been abusing the children for the last 10 years but the incident never came into the notice of the government hierarchy. “This is a curse and filth. We have to clean our society from such criminals. The entire provincial machinery including the CM and IGP are very closely monitoring the situation,” he added.

Replying to a question, the minister said the police officers found involved in protecting the abusers or those showed negligence in this important issue would be punished. He also claimed that all the criminals would be brought to justice irrespective of their status or political affiliation.

Efforts to suppress, deny voices of abused children fail