LAHORE - One of the two suspects wanted by police in the Lahore Motorway gang rape incident was arrested on Monday and later he confessed to the crime during interrogation. 

In a tweet, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar announced that the suspect was identified by police as Shafqat Ali and his DNA had matched with the samples collected from the crime scene. “Our entire team is also making continuous efforts for the arrest of suspect Abid Ali, which is expected soon,” he said, referring to the primary suspect in the case.

Punjab Police Inspector General Inam Ghani also confirmed the arrest stating that by the grace of Allah Almighty, in the light of scientific analysis and investigation of the evidence found at the crime scene, one of the accused in the Lahore-Sialkot motorway rape case, Shafqat Ali son of Allah Ditta, resident of Haroonabad, Bahawalnagar district, was arrested.  

The police chief also said that the DNA of accused Shafqat Ali matched the DNA obtained from the crime scene. The IGP further said that just as the Punjab Police has been working day and night to identify the accused and arrest the accused Shafqat, Insha-Allah, the fugitive accused Abid Malhi will also be arrested soon and brought to justice.

Shafqat is the second suspected rapist apart from Abid Ali, police sources say. Waqar-ul-Hassan and Abbas are not suspects anymore in this case, they added. They added that Shafqat was a habitual offender and had been involved in crimes in the past as well.

They said Waqar claimed that Abid had links to Shafqat and his brother-in-law, Abbas, the latter of whom has been detained. Shafqat was then arrested from Dipalpur after being traced through his phone SIM card. The DNA samples obtained from Shafqat were sent to the laboratory for testing.

The sources added that Shafqat Ali, with whom key suspect Abid used to commit crimes, confessed to gang-raping a woman when her car had broken down on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway on Sept 9 even before his DNA test was carried out.

According to Shafqat, a man named Bala Mistri called the prime suspect Abid and him to Lahore. Shafqat told police that all three gathered in Shahdara where they are ate Dahi Baray. “All three went to commit the crime but Bala Mistri turned back halfway,” Shafqat told police, according to sources. Shafqat also told police that he and Abid had tried to rape a woman in Sheikhupura a month earlier but Punjab Police arrived on the scene to prevent the crime, forcing the two to flee.

“We spent a night at Qila Sattar Shah after committing the rape,” Shafqat told police, as per sources. “The next day, I went to Dialpur and Abid went to his father at Manga Mandi,” he added. The suspect further told police that he was last in contact with Abid three days ago.  

According to some media reports, Shafqat and Abid were at the Lahore-Sialkot motorway on Sept 9 with an intention to rob any motorist when they saw a stationary white-coloured car on the roadside. The two approached the vehicle, threatened and robbed its occupants, and then gang-raped the woman in front of her children after dragging them to a nearby field.

Police explained that apart from Shafqat’s statement, his DNA had to match as well, which is why the samples had been sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA). The arrest was made with use of footprint-tracking as well as DNA samples.

The PFSA had Abid’s prior DNA records from 2013, when he had raped a woman and her daughter and was booked alongside four others under Sections 376 and 395. While he had been bailed out at the time, his DNA and fingerprint records were saved in the lab’s data bank. The lab’s system identified him as the same rapist from more than seven years ago.

Meanwhile, speaking to a private news channel, Punjab Information Minister Fayyaz ul Hasan Chohan said Abid’s father, wife, and other family members had been arrested and claimed that the key suspect “will be arrested in a few hours”.

Chohan added that the two main suspects had stepped out together on the day of the crime and even had food in Shahdara. Abid injured his hand when they broke the driving-side glass of the car, he noted, and that a DNA sample from that blood had been obtained. Abid had five SIMS, four of which were registered under his name, the provincial minister said, but he has shut down fifth SIM as well.