LAHORE - Many victims of the Kasur child abuse scandal have blamed the Punjab government for backing the alleged rapists, facing criminal trials in local courts.

The residents of Kasur district while addressing a news conference at the Lahore Press Club on Tuesday threatened the provincial government that they would collectively commit “self-immolations” if the government would not pay heed to their demands.

Accompanied by victims and their relatives, Kasur Union Council Chairman Mubeen Ghazanvi said that they were left with no other choice except to stage protest demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly to take the extreme step of “collective self-immolations” on Monday.

“We have lost trust in the Punjab government because the (alleged) rapists are being provided protocol on the behest of the rulers. The victims are being victimized. The criminals are hurling life threats at the victims and their families from jails by using mobile phones,” Mubeen Ghazanvi said.

Some of the victims and their relatives including Muhammad Akram, Ijaz Ahmad, Waleed Akhtar, Eid Muhammad, Muhammad Mushtaq, and Muhammad Asghar were also present on this occasion. They said that the Kasur police were taking revengeful acts against families of the victims on best of the top government officials.

“When the victims appear in the courts, they are threatened by the criminals. The victims are not provided legal assistance by the government so far. They are not being provided security and transport to appear in courts as they were promised,” they said.

According to relatives, the victims , on different occasions, were attacked by the accomplices of the criminals when they were on their way to the courts. But the police did not take any action against the attackers. “They are forcing families of the victims to withdraw cases or get ready for consequences.”

They also appealed to the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, and Chief Justice of the Lahore Court Syed Mansoor Ali Shah to help them get justice. “We will reach Punjab Assembly to collectively commit self-immolations on coming Monday since the victims are being denied justice,” they added.

Over a dozen suspects were arrested by police in connection with the country’s biggest child sexual abuse scandal that occurred in Hussain Khanwala village in 2015.