LAHORE: Over 387 children were sexually assaulted three years ago in Kasur — the same city where 8-year old Zainab has now been raped and murdered.

An Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced two suspects to life imprisonment after they were found guilty, and released four others by giving them benefit of doubt in the country’s largest ever child abuse case.

But the question is whether 8-year old Zainab’s parents could get justice as eight cases of the biggest sexual abuse scandal have been pending adjudication before the Anti-Terrorism Court since then.  

In April, 2015, Ganda Singh Wala, a village in suburb of Kasur, emerged as a centre of world’s attention when victim families came out of their homes to record their protest against sexual assault of their children. 

The protests continued for days until the local police lodged 25 cases against 15 people with terrorism charges the same year. Police arrested the suspects and produced them before the Anti-Terrorism Court .

Police said over 387 children were sexually abused in the village and their videos were made and sold in different markets, showing them being forced to do sex. Police said the victims had also been exploited and demanded extortion by the suspects.

The Anti-Terrorism Court has so far sentenced two suspects Haseem Amir and Faizan Majeed to life imprisonment and released four others including Attiq-ur-Rehman, Tanzeel-ur-Rehman and Saleem Sherazi. However, eight cases of the same incident are still pending adjudication before the Anti-Terrorism Court .

The court also imposed fine of Rs0.3 million on the convicts for their role in abusing children. Haseem was the member of a prominent family in Kasur and Majeed was his friend. 

According to an official with Prosecution department, the majority of the suspects could not be sentenced as many of the victims have turned hostile.

“Victims have turned hostile in many cases and they are not ready to testify against any in the court,” a senior prosecutor says with anonymity. “Case of a woman who was raped was also taken up with all these cases of sodomy and extortion but she herself turned hostile.”

Witnesses are not ready to come and assist the court which is the reason that the cases are still pending, he says.

Another prosecutor who also handled this case shares his experience with anonymity, saying that “the suspects have approached the Supreme Court and now all the cases are sized with the top court which has stayed decisions on the pending cases.” On other side, he says  “When a victim himself shows unwillingness to assist the court or to testify then how the case could be concluded and how the criminals could be punished,” the prosecutor questions while elaborating delay behind the pending cases of the biggest child abuse scandal.

He says further: “I played my role in evidence collection and exhibited videos showing children being forced to do sex but there was not witness to take stand,”. He also points out that political interference is also a hurdle in dispensation of justice as many people of the same village did not join the investigation.