HYDERABAD, Oct 26: The uncle of much publicised Khipro gang-rape schoolgirl has expressed dissatisfaction over police investigation and said the FIR should have included provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
The girl, a student of class IX, was allegedly drugged, criminally assaulted, filmed and her video posted on the Internet in Khipro last month.
The uncle who is complainant in the gang-rape case dismissed the victim’s medico-legal examination and said the medico-legal officer (MLO) concerned did not conduct it properly.
The MLO made the observation in his preliminary external examination report that the girl was well oriented, intelligent and had clean clothes, he said.
“Such observation can harm her case. Understandably, we lodged the FIR after the girl finally broke her silence and told us about the incident and obviously she was not wearing the same clothes she had on when the offence took place,” he said.
“I have been demanding since the registration of FIR that the case must be challaned in an anti-terrorism court but police appear not to take my calls seriously,” he said while talking to Dawn on Oct 25.
He said that police had not even recovered the vehicle used in the offence. “Police are trying to weaken the case so that it is not challaned in the ATC, to the benefit of the accused,” he said.
The case’s interim challan was filed before judicial magistrate of Khipro without incorporation of section 7 of ATA 1997 in the FIR. Legal experts believe the section should have been included in it.
Police referred to sections 13(ii) of Picture Act-2007 and 376(2), 342, 506(2), 354-A, 337-J, 345-A of the Pakistan Penal Code in the FIR lodged on Oct 4 while the incident had allegedly taken place on Sept 28.
The accused Waseem, Jehanzeb, Danish and Sohail, all Kaimkhanis by caste, are in Nara jail and the co-accused, Farasat, Nayyab and Tahreem have obtained pre-arrest bail from the Sindh High Court.
Sanghar police requested the director-general of health services Sindh on Thursday for constitution of a medical board to determine the girl’s age, said SP investigation Khalid Mustafa Korai.
Hyderabad District Bar Association president and criminal lawyer Noorul Haq Qureshi argued that police should have included section 7 of the ATA in the FIR and referred to section 6(b) of the ATA which defined that any act that created fear of insecurity in pubic was covered under the ATA.
He said that the gang-rape was not specifically defined under the ATA but the act led to terror in society and created fear of insecurity in public hence it warranted inclusion of relevant section.
Qurban Chohan, another criminal lawyer, supported his view, saying the act amounted to terrorising society thus it was to be challaned before ATC.
Ayaz Latif Palejo advocate said the accused would easily get relief from ordinary courts on account of even minor contradictions during cross-examination of the victim. “It’s apathy of police that ATA provision has not been included in the FIR in order to favour the accused,” he said.
But a senior criminal lawyer Syed Madad Ali Shah disagreed with them on ground that the gang-rape was not specifically defined under ATA 1997.
Rape was covered under 376 PPC regardless of the fact it was committed by one or more than one persons, he said.
SP Korai said: “We can still add ATA section to the FIR because we haven’t yet submitted the final challan to the court. The ATA section could be included at the time of final challan if need be,” he said.
He said: “We are addressing certain lacunas in the investigation as well because the offence also involved a cyber crime”. Police were trying to investigate whether the accused were involved in such crimes in the past as well, he said.
Secondly, he said, question of the girl’s puberty was to be settled because her school record and doctor’s contentions differed about her age. “Therefore, we have sought appointment of medical board not only to determine her age but also to get her medical examination conducted,” he said.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistans coordinator for special task force for Sindh, Dr. Ashuthama, said that the case had some weak points. The task force’s fact-finding team had revealed that the incident was several months old and the evidence of gang-rape was apparently missing.
“Why did the girl remain silent for so long? She only broke her silence when her video was uploaded on the Internet. Relationship between the girl and boys cannot be ruled out,” he said.
“The only new thing in this case is that the accused appeared to be habitual in their act as they used to trap girls and then film entire episode to blackmail them,” Dr Ashuthama said.
Published by Daily Dawn on October 26, 2010