By Our Web Correspondent
LAHORE– The gang-rape of a woman car rider on Lahore-Sialkot Motorway has literally exposed the security cum patrolling paradigm of law-enforcement agencies as criminals found it much easy to target innocent civilians on a 95-kilometre deserted stretch.
Lahore Mirror investigations reveal that the National Highways Authority (NHA) didn’t take any steps for the launch of patrolling on the motorway and the commuters have been using the road for the last six months or so.
The federal government usually empowers the National Highway and Motorways Police (NH&MP) to patrol motorways.
A source in the NH&MP told Lahore Mirror that their force is dependent on the green signals of NHA for patrolling any road.
He claimed the patrolling on Lahore-Sialkot motorway is subject to the approval of the ministry of communications.
The source further claimed usually any crime on motorways is referred to the local police by NH&MP officials so local police is usually responsible for such incidents.
He said according to Gujjarpura SHO, the incident tool place near Karol Ghatti when the woman joined the motorway.
A source in Lahore police is of view that police patrolling nearby motorways and Ring Road is a rare activity as local police do not bother such patrolling because of other patrolling priorities.
He says Gujjarpura outskirts are usually deserted so it’s out of question that Gujjarpura police pay any heed to patrolling.
Robbers gang-rape mother of two
On Tuesday night, it was reported that two robbers had gang-raped a mother of two on the motorway within Gujjarpura police’s jurisdiction.
The woman, along with her two children, was driving to Gujranwala in her car when she was forced to stop at the Gujjarpura section of the motorway after running out of fuel, at around 1:30am. She immediately called a relative and sent him her location. He asked her to also dial the Motorway Police helpline 130 from which she reportedly received no response.
In the meantime, two robbers approached the car, broke the window, and took the woman and her children to nearby bushes where they raped her repeatedly in front of the children. They also snatched her purse carrying Rs100,000 in cash, one bracelet, car registration papers, and three ATM cards.
CM Buzdar seeks report from IGP
Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar has taken strict notice of an incident of molestation of a woman on the motorway and sought a report from IG Police. He directed to arrest the criminals at the earliest and the affected woman be provided justice at any cost.
The criminals deserve strict punishment under the law, he stressed. I am personally monitoring the progress made in this case and the IGP has been directed to early arrest the criminals, the CM said. The investigation is being done scientifically and the perpetrators will be given strict punishment, he further said.
IGP on incident
Punjab police chief Inam Ghani said no effort should be spared to bring the accused involved in the rape of a woman on Gujjarpura Motorway to justice as soon as possible and if any such incident takes place in future then responsible police officers will be answerable to it of the area.
He stressed that the patrolling system should be made more effective by increasing police patrolling on the less-populated highways so that such heinous incidents may be stopped in future.
Shahzad Akbar admits ‘administrative failure’
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability, Shahzad Akbar, admitted the government’s “administrative failure” in the Lahore motorway rape case, vowing that culprits will be apprehended at all costs.
“There is some administrative failure [in the case] that we must admit since it took place on the link road that connects the two motorways,” Akbar told a news conference, flanked by CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh.
Akbar defended the Lahore CCPO’s statement which raised a lot of eyebrows after the cop blamed the rape victim for her choice of route and travelling late at night.
“I see an unneeded controversy was created out of the CCPO’s earlier statement,” said Akbar. “I have spoken to him about it, he will tell you himself what he meant by it.”
The prime minister’s aide said that it was the government’s responsibility to ensure that roads, motorways, streets and highways were safe for men and women to travel.
“If a case such as this takes place, it is also the government’s job to arrest the culprits and make an example out of them,” he said.
Responding to a question about the person who had filed the complaint of the rape, Akbar said that it was not appropriate to disclose the identity of the victim or the person who had filed the case.
“We all have mothers, daughters and sisters,” he said, urging media to keep the identity of the victim secret even if they get to know about it.
CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh told the media that expert foot trackers had been brought in to help with the investigations. He reminded journalists present during the news conference that investigation was a patient process and it takes time to identify the real culprits of a crime.
Sheikh said that the culprits had bled when they had broken the car’s window. He said that police had collected blood samples and sent them to the laboratory for tests.
He further said that there were only two villages in the forest on the left side of the motorway and one on its right side, hence, the culprits were within three to five kilometers of the scene of the crime.
Responding to criticism earlier on his statement, Sheikh said that he was hurt over the incident hence he had suggested that precautions should be taken.
“I have said that this is our responsibility, and we will solve it,” he said.