SSP (Investigation) pledges support to victims, vows to build strong enough case to ensure conviction of suspects
A young couple that was terrorized by a group of men at a “guest house” in Islamabad on Thursday agreed to become complainants in the case, submitting a formal statement to police about the abuse they suffered at the hands of primary accused Usman Mirza and his collaborators.
In a video statement, SSP (Investigation) Attaur Rehman announced that the couple seen in the viral clip had since gotten married. He said police would ensure they received justice in court, and vowed to proceed with the case until its logical conclusion. A member of the couple’s family, meanwhile, thanked police for their support and confirmed that they had been assured security by law enforcement agencies.
Earlier, police had said that while they had located the victims, they were unwilling to become party to the case because they feared for their lives. A senior police official had said that they would offer them protective custody to ensure they were not targeted for retaliation by the accused.
The videos, which police have urged the public not to share to protect the identities of the victims, clearly show at least six people sexually harassing and assaulting the boy and girl. Reportedly filmed earlier this year, the clips show the suspects holding the couple at gunpoint; forcing them to strip; beating them up while verbally abusing them; and forcing them to perform sexual acts on each other while threatening them with physical harm.
Police on Thursday said that all four suspects currently in custody—Mirza, Hafizur Rehman, Shaheen Awan, Madaris Butt—had multiple videos of similar incidents on their mobile phones, raising concerns that they were part of an organized gang that targeted young couples in the federal capital. Investigators said the people being victimized in the clips were being identified and would be contacted to see if they were willing to become witnesses in the ongoing case. The ongoing probe would also determine if there were additional accomplices that needed to be arrested, they added.
Initial investigations have found that all the accused are property and car dealers, and had secured flats in Islamabad’s I-8 area that they would rent out for a day or less. Couples who rented the rooms would then be harassed and taped by the accused, followed by threats and blackmail to discourage them from seeking help from police.
P.M. takes notice
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, P.M. Imran Khan has taken personal notice of the incident and directed the Islamabad Inspector General of Police to submit a report on the case. It said that the premier had directed police to utilize “all their energies” to ensure justice for the victims, adding that he had warned that such criminals “don’t deserve concessions.”
According to the FIR registered by police, the suspects are being held under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 354A (assault or use of criminal force to woman and stripping her of her clothes, which carries a maximum penalty of death), 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. Police have told media that these are all serious offenses, and they would ensure that evidence supporting the charges is provided to court.