LAHORE - The criminal justice system of Punjab could find only two culprits in country’s biggest child abuse scandal involving 280 children and dozens of accused, after months of investigation and court proceedings.

Anti-terrorism court of judge Muhammad Ilyas yesterday sentenced life in jail to Haseem Amir and Faizan Majeed and fined them Rs300,000 each.

The scandal came to spotlight in August last when 4,000 protesters, mostly families of the victims, clashed local police in a rural area of Kasur – just 50km from provincial capital Lahore –against their failure to prosecute the orchestrators.

A few administrative and police cards were shuffled and top cops started visiting Hussain Khan Wala village which had become focus of the media after The Nation highlighted that a gang of around 25 beasts there had been abusing children on a massive scale for last several years.

We reported that the gang arranged the abuse, perpetrated it in many cases, and then used the videotapes of the assaults to force children engage in sexual acts repeatedly afterwards and to extort millions of rupees from the victims and their families. The racket even sold videos to porn sites operating from the western countries.

Back then Saba Sadiq, head of Punjab’s Child Protection Bureau, described the case as “the largest-ever child abuse scandal in Pakistan’s history” and said a provincial inquiry announced by the chief minister “would be taken up at federal level to safeguard the children rights in future.”

The prime minister also took notice.

But all the promises were forgotten in no time. In fact, as soon as some influential were tipped as patrons of the prime accused, government machinery swung into action to shut up the victims and confuse the case by dubbing it a concoction built around a property dispute.

But the courage and resilience of victim families and constant media pressure forced authorities to keep running the case, though at a painfully slow pace. And now here we are with the result of all this exercise.

A ‘secure future’ of children’s rights has arrived. Justice has been served. Congratulations to the victims!