Investigation finds accused had been using a “guest house” to lure victims, filming their sexual assault, and silencing them with threats of blackmail
Police in Islamabad have arrested four people—and are on the hunt for two more—over their role in the sexual, physical and verbal assault of a young couple in the federal capital that drew widespread outrage after clips of the abuse went viral on social media.
The videos, which police have urged the public not to share to protect the identities of the victims, clearly show at least six men sexually harassing and assaulting a 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.
The video, allegedly leaked after one of the suspects shared it with a friend, went viral on Monday, forcing police to locate and apprehend primary accused Usman Mirza. “The video of violence against a woman and a boy went viral on social media. Islamabad police immediately utilized all resources to arrest the accused Usman Mirza in a few hours, registered FIR, and initiated legal action,” the Islamabad Police announced in a posting on Twitter early on Tuesday morning.
A case has been registered on behalf of the state in the Golra Police Station under Sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint); 354A (assault or use of criminal force on a 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. Police have said they have located the victims, but they are unwilling to serve as complainants or witnesses because they fear for their lives. A senior police official said a plan to take them into protective custody was under consideration, as the potential of suicide or honor killings could not be ruled out due to their identities becoming public after the clips went viral.
According to the FIR, Usman Mirza is a resident of sector I-8 and operates a car showroom and real estate firm. Police have said that they have arrested him, as well as accomplices Hafizur Rehman, Farhan Shaheen Awan, and Madaris Butt. They said mobile phones had been recovered from all four, adding that these contained multiple video clips of similar incidents filmed in the same location—an apartment in sector E-11—suggesting a premeditated and long-running harassment and blackmailing operation.
A spokesperson of the Islamabad Police said courts had granted the physical remand of the suspects. He also rejected rumors that the suspects had been released on bail—prompted by an earlier video of Mirza in which he had warned that he would not spent more than 10-20 days in jail before being released.
PTI MNA Maleeka Bokhari, who has helped draft several pro-women legislations, assured citizens that the Islamabad police had taken prompt action over the heinous crimes seen in the video. “I have received numerous messages of women feeling unsafe and angry. The state is here to protect you and will not spare such barbarians,” she vowed in a posting on Twitter.