The Punjab police has decided to obtain DNA samples of residents living in areas near where a woman was raped on the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway Wednesday night. At least 48 samples have been taken so far, the police said.
They said it will take at least a week to 10 days for results to come in.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar has summoned the Lahore CCPO over his victim-shaming remarks on a news channel after the rape case was reported.
The woman was raped in front of her children by two unidentified men on the motorway. She was driving to Gujranwala when she ran out of fuel near Lahore’s Gujjarpura. The woman was sitting in her vehicle when two men walked towards her car, broke her window, and made her park on the roadside. They then took her and the children to a nearby forest and raped her.
The men fled after the rape, taking with them cash and jewellery worth Rs100,000.
The samples will be submitted to the Punjab Forensic Agency. The police have also completed geo-fencing of the area and will be checking the call data for all calls made in the area before, after and during the crime.
According to the police, 12 suspects were taken into custody over their suspected involvement. DNA samples of seven of these men have already been taken.
The police added that the rape has been corroborated by medical reports.
At least 20 teams have been formed to investigate the case. This includes teams of the Special Branch, CIA and Investigation Police.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and the inspector general have taken notice of the incident. They have ordered officials to submit a report.
Shahbaz Gill, the special assistant to the PM on political communication, said the Lahore CCPO is leading the investigation and they are using the techniques of urban and rural policing. He also shared pictures of the woman’s car on Twitter.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that her ministry has asked the regional office for an “action report” from the police. The FIR copy and progress report is with us at the MOHR, she said.
Following the incident, the Punjab Police have taken control of security of the motorway and deployed over 250 personnel of the Special Protection Unit, CSP and Highway Patrol Unit. They will patrol the motorway in cars and motorcycles until Motorway Police are posted in the area.
Sheikh appeared on Dunya News after the rape was reported and commented on the survivor’s decision to take the motorway with her children at night.
“The story is that this woman, if it is in your knowledge, left Defence at 12:30am for Gujranwala,” said CCPO Sheikh while talking to the news channel. “First, I am surprised that she, a mother of three children, was the only driver.” She left Defence and should’ve taken GT Road, where there are shops and people nearby. “If you are taking the other way, then at least make sure your vehicle has fuel,” he remarked.
Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari criticised the Lahore CCPO for “blaming a woman” for being raped. “For an officer to effectively blame a woman for being gang-raped by saying she should have taken the GT Road or question as to why she went out in the night with her children is unacceptable,” said Mazari in a tweet. “Nothing can ever rationalise the crime of rape.”
In an interview with Kamran Khan for Dunya News, CM Buzdar kept repeating that an “impartial investigation” would be conducted into the matter. Khan repeatedly pressed the CM to comment on the CCPO’s statement and how it was a poor reflection of his government, but Buzdar ignored it and kept repeating that an investigation would be conducted.
Rape is a punishable offence in Pakistan. The definition and punishment for this crime is detailed under Sections 375 and 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the law, a man is said to commit rape when he has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions:
The convicted rapists will be sentenced to jail for no less than 10 years or more than 25 years, according to the law. A fine will also be imposed on them.
SAMAA TV had earlier erroneously reported that two men were arrested in the Lahore motorway rape case after they used the survivor’s ATM card. The news was shared by a fake Twitter account under the name of the Punjab IG. The error is regretted. It has been fixed.