Police secure extension to physical remand of suspects and add offenses to FIR in light of victims’ statement
A District and Sessions Court in Islamabad has been informed that 14 people had been involved in the terrorizing and abuse of a young couple that went viral on social media last week, adding that they had paid Rs. 1.12 million as extortion to the accused to prevent further harassment.
Last week, a video clip of the abuse—allegedly filmed by one of the suspects earlier this year—went viral on social media, provoking widespread outrage over the criminal actions of primary accused Usman Mirza and his co-accused. Thus far, police have arrested six men over their role in the assault—Mirza, Attaur Rehman, Farhan Khan, Madaris Butt, Bilal Marwat, and Mohib Khan, who was taken into custody on Monday. Police say they are still searching for two more co-accused.
During ongoing proceedings, the public prosecutor in the case informed the court that the young couple had been held at gunpoint for approximately 2.5 hours. He said that they had been forced to act on the directions of the suspects, adding that the accused had filmed the entire ordeal.
The prosecutor also briefed the court on evidence secured from the accused, noting that a pistol and two mobile phones had been recovered from the custody of primary accused Usman Mirza. Seeking an extension to the physical remand of the suspects, he said that police still needed to recover more video footage, laptops and other relevant data from them.
The court was informed that both victims had recorded their statements under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code and that eight more sections had been added to the First Information Report in light of their complaints.
Police had registered the initial FIR under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 354A (assault or use of criminal force to 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. On Monday, it added Sections 375-A and 375-D (rape); 338 (punishment of extortion); 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement); 395 (dacoity); 396-A (enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a woman); 377-B (sexual abuse).
The court granted police four days additional physical remand of Mirza, Farhan, Rehman, Butt and Bilal, bringing to 10 the total days the suspects have been in physical remand. The sixth suspect, Mohib Khan, is currently on judicial remand.
During court proceedings, the counsel for one of the suspects—Attaur Rehman—claimed that his client was innocent, and could be seen trying to halt the harassment perpetrated by Mirza and his accomplices. Meanwhile, the counsel for the victims argued that exemplary punishment was required, as the incident had terrorized society and now even married couples did not want to stay in hotels or guest houses because they feared harassment and assault.
Separately, a woman from Rawalpindi has told broadcaster Geo News that was also harassed and blackmailed by primary accused Mirza, alleging that he had threatened to show up at her home if she did not “become friends” with him. She claimed she had filed a complaint with the FIA’s Cyber-Crime Cell but no action had been taken against him.
Police had earlier told media that they suspect the accused—all of them property or car dealers—might be part of an organized gang that preys on young couples in Islamabad. They said that the phones recovered thus far contain multiple videos of harassment featuring the accused, adding that it appears that the gang would rent out apartments to young couples, film them, and then extort money from them in exchange for not publicizing the videos. However, they stressed, this could only be confirmed once all accused had been arrested and investigated.