Home Latest News Punjab Government Seeks to Defend Early Release of Khadija Siddiqi’s Attacker

Punjab Government Seeks to Defend Early Release of Khadija Siddiqi’s Attacker

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Khadija Siddiqi. Arif Ali—AFP

Shah Hussain granted remission to sentence after serving only three-and-a-half of five-year prison term

The Punjab government on Tuesday issued a defense of its decision to allow the early release of Shah Hussain—who was convicted and sentenced for stabbing then-law student Khadija Siddiqi 23 times—claiming he had availed “technical remissions” to reduce his sentence.

Punjab Prisons Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, in a video statement, claimed that Hussain was not granted any relief from higher offices such as that of the president, the prime minister, or the chief minister. Earlier, Siddiqi had posted on Twitter that she blamed the provincial government for the early release, claiming that it had “granted extraordinary remission of 1.5 years” to the convict. She also accused Chohan of “complicity.”

According to Chohan, Hussain availed “technical remissions” for good conduct, his educational background and for donating blood per law. A follow-up notification issued by the superintendent of Lahore’s Central Jail claimed that Hussain was released on July 17 after getting “remission admissible under the rules” and had also deposited approximately Rs. 300,000 as a fine.

The Jail official’s statement said that Hussain’s total sentence was five years of rigorous imprisonment in addition to various fines. It claimed that he had been given “ordinary remission” of eight months and eight days; good conduct remission of one month; blood donation remission of one month; and seven months and 15 days remission for completing his B.A. The total remission granted, it said, was one year, five months and 23 days.

Siddiqi has, in recent days, sounded the alarm over Hussain’s release, noting that she was not even informed of his exit from jail and had yet to hear from Lahore police about a plea for additional security. In an appearance on broadcaster Geo TV, she acknowledged that prison rules allow remissions, but nearly 1.5 years was practically “unheard of.” She also questioned how the ex-con’s remission hearing occurred so quickly when far more pressing cases languish in higher court for years.

Siddiqi, then a law student, was stabbed 23 times in Lahore in 2016, leaving her critically injured, while picking up her younger sister from school. She identified Hussain as her attacker and on July 29, 2017 he was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 7 years in jail. In March 2018, this sentence was reduced to 5 years by a sessions court judge with the Lahore High Court—before which Hussain’s father practices law—acquitting the accused in June over “insufficient evidence.”

Hussain’s acquittal had provoked outrage across Pakistan, prompting then-chief justice Saqib Nisar to take notice and forward the case to a Supreme Court bench led by Justice Khosa for further hearing. The appeal was formally admitted for hearing on June 13, 2018.

A three-member bench, led by then-chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa, had on Jan. 23, 2019 ordered Hussain to be taken into custody immediately. “Today is a victory for all women,” Siddiqi told media after the hearing. “This decision has proven that if you misuse power, it will come to light,” she said, thanking her lawyers and the media for playing a role in ensuring justice was not denied.

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