HUSSAIN KHAN WALA - A senior provincial police officer has been transferred and three top officials of Kasur district police suspended, raising hopes of justice for the victims in Pakistan’s biggest child sex abuse scandal.
Punjab police chief on Tuesday visited Hussain Khan Wala village, which has become focus of the media after The Nation highlighted that a gang there had been abusing children on a massive scale for the last several years.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera assured the victim families of speedy investigation, saying it will be completed in just 14 days by the joint investigation team (JIT) constituted late Monday night.
Normally, such probes take years to complete because of country’s complex and inefficient criminal justice system. The IGP also suspended from service Kasur district police chief, DPO Rai Babar Saeed, and his two deputies (DSPs).
The Punjab government also removed Additional IGP Arif Mushtaq for presenting a ‘misleading report’ on the scandal to the chief minister. “Dr Arif Mushtaq who had furnished the first inquiry report last week has been made OSD (officer on special duty) by the Punjab government,” an official said.
Reports of the sexual abuse of about 280 children, most of them under 14, have shocked the country. The victims were sexually abused and filmed by a gang of 25, comprising mostly youngsters and run by two men. Their families had also been blackmailed by the gang since 2009.
“At least 284 children were abused during the last 10 years,” a boy - who himself worked for the gang - disclosed to The Nation. Danish Ali, the 17-year-old youth said he himself had been abused by gang members when he was just five years of age and paid tens of thousands of rupees to them.
“When I told them (abusers) that I have no more money, they told me to join the ring,” said the guy, who can be seen in a clip joyfully performing sex acts and has not been detained yet. He added he was among the first five children abused and filmed by the gang.
The computer diploma holder said he, along with the arrested accused, prepared, copied and sold pornographic movies. During the last seven years, he said, his accomplices deleted hundreds of clips from their record after extorting money from the victims or for other reasons.
He expressed fears that police would destroy evidence as “they were protecting the culprits”. The investigators are hiding evidence. “I myself provided at least 400 videos to the police… and once the SP (Investigation) concerned told us that he had seized as many 390 videos from the culprits.”
A police spokesperson said on Tuesday that the five-member joint team of investigators has started work on Kasur scandal. The FIRs of Kasur incidents incorporate Section 7-ATA (anti-terrorism act) under PPC, he said.
Punjab Constabulary Deputy Commandant DIG Abubakar Khudabakhsh is convener of this team, which includes two members from intelligence agencies and two from the police – SSP Khalid Bashir Cheema and DSP Liaqat Ali. Ironically, DIG Abubakar served as the regional police officer (RPO) in the same district when the inhuman activities were going on there.
Dozens of villagers staged a protest demonstration and chanted slogans against the Punjab police and the government as the chief of the country’s largest law enforcement agency reached there to assure justice to the victims. As the IGP left the site after addressing a news conference, enraged families staged a protest and threw shoes on the police officers. Some TV footages showed a shoe landing on the head of Sheikhupura RPO Shahzad Sultan.
To the question that why police failed to take notice of this gross criminality for so many years, Punjab IGP Mushtaq Sukhera replied, “Children don’t tell such incidents even to their parents (because of disgrace factor).” To another question, he said seven accused had admitted to their crimes.
Asked if the statements and figures reported in daily The Nation’s story were true, the Punjab top cop said, “I just have met some new victims. They (all) are requested to file complaints and the police will register their cases.” Sukhera said the police would know about the exact number of victims when they submitted their applications.
The IGP said there was no need to refer these cases to the military courts. “We will dispense justice. The JIT will probe into each and every aspect of the scandal.” He said the policemen found involved in the scandal would also be kicked out.
Sukhera in his press conference also contradicted the claims of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah that the child abuse scandal was linked to some land dispute. “I asked the minister (why he stated so), and he said that because of a land dispute some people tried to falsely implicate some innocent persons in abuse case. “Our heads hang in shame (because of this scandal),” the police chief said.
Mother of one of the main suspects told reporters in the village that her son, Amir Haseem, brought shame to the family and the village by doing such activities. “The land dispute developed between two groups just two to three months ago. The land dispute has nothing to do with these incidents,” she clarified in front of TV crews.