LAHORE - The prime suspect of the Lahore-Sialkot motorway gang-rape case Abid Malhi was arrested by the city police on Monday.

Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Shahbaz Gill confirmed the arrest in a tweet and said that the suspect would be punished according to law. Last month, two robbers on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway had gang-raped a mother of two in front of her children within the Gujjarpura police jurisdiction.

Police sources say Abid was arrested from Faisalabad and shifted to Lahore amid tight security. The arrest comes weeks after the incident that sparked outrage across the country. The horrific incident caused a countrywide outpouring of anger and brought sexual violence against women into national focus once again. Abid and Shafqat Ali alias Bagga, who is on judicial remand, are said to be the main suspects in this case.

Abid was leading a gang of four and wanted to police in at least 10 other criminal cases registered at various police stations of Punjab.

The news was welcomed by President Arif Alvi, who termed the arrest “a matter of national relief.”

“An efficient trial of the accused and the ‘severest exemplary’ punishment possible under the law must be given to all those found guilty,” the president said in a tweet on Monday. “Let everyone feel safe in Pakistan, specially our women and children.”

Shafqat, whose arrest was announced by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, was sent to prison on a 14-day judicial remand by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore a day after he was detained by the police.

Shafqat was detained by police after the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Police raided a house in Okara district. He confessed to the crime before his DNA matched the samples collected from the crime scene.

The CTD had carried out an intelligence-based operation (IBO) and arrested Shafqat from his sister’s house in Depalpur. Abid had called Shafqat many times before and after committing the rape.

During interrogation, Shafqat told police investigators that Abid had first raped the woman and then asked him to commit the offence while threatening him that he would shoot him (Shafqat) for not committing the crime or showing sympathy for the victim.