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State to pursue Islamabad couple harassment case: PTI's Maleeka Bokhari

13 Jan, 2022
A statement was issued after a high-level meeting of the Ministry of Law and Justice under the chairmanship of Law Minister Farogh Naseem. 
Maleeka Bokhari/ Twitter
A statement was issued after a high-level meeting of the Ministry of Law and Justice under the chairmanship of Law Minister Farogh Naseem. Maleeka Bokhari/ Twitter

Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Maleeka Bokhari has said the state will pursue the Islamabad couple harassment case irrespective of the "recent developments relating to victim's testimony".

"Irrefutable video & forensic evidence on record- anyone harassing & stripping a woman must face full force of the law," read a tweet by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker on Wednesday.

Bokhari tweeted a day after the female victim in the couple harassment case retracted from her statement in the court, saying "the police had made up the case, she does not know any accused in the case." The victim said she did not want to pursue the case.

In July last year, a video of the couple gone viral on the social media in which they were held on gun point by four men who forced them to strip and assaulted them.

A statement was issued after a high-level meeting of the Ministry of Law and Justice on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Law Minister Farogh Naseem, reported Dawn.

"We will make all-out efforts to take the culprits in the case to task, and have undeniable and solid evidence that will be presented before the court at the next hearing," Bokhari was quoted as saying in the statement.

She added that taking the case to its logical conclusion was the responsibility of the government and police.

According to the report, the video of Usman Mirza, who is the primary accused in the case - had been verified by the Pakistan Science Foundation, and the ministry officials had photogrammetry (pertaining to the technique for making measurements through photographs) evidence, which will be presented to the court at the next hearing.

The meeting discussed the couple harassment case in detail which was attended by Islamabad inspector general of police, operations deputy inspector general of police and investigation senior superintendent of police.

Bokhari was quoted in the report saying the authorities would provide "comprehensive security" to the victims and ensure the delivery of justice to them.

Mirza and his six accomplices have been indicted in the case: Hafiz Ataur Rehman, Adaras Qayyum Butt, Rehan, Umar Bilal Marwat, Mohib Bangash and Farhan Shaheen.

The suspects were initially booked under sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 354A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her of her clothes), 506 (ii) (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Pakistan Penal Code, read the report.

Later, sections pertaining to rape, sexual abuse, extortion, and wrongful confinement were also included in the first information report.

In the statement, Bokhari further said Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed that the state should pursue cases of violence and harassment against women and children.

"The state is standing with the affected women and children", and those guilty of abusing women and children could not escape the grip of law in any case, she added.

Earlier, in a tweet on Wednesday, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said cases like Usman Mirza, GT Road rape and Shahrukh Jatoi were "a challenge to our justice system".

"Why these cases are not being heard on daily basis and why they are being taken as ordinary cases?" asked Fawad in a tweet.

The prosecution and courts should fulfil their responsibilities to lead these cases to their logical conclusion, he added.

Reaction to the update was mixed.

Some called it a great decision.

The lawyer Imaan Hazari called the lauding of PTI's decision to pursue the case as a low bar.

Independent researcher Nazish Brohi tweeted a thread explaining why witnesses often retract statements.