Lahore CCPO, cabinet should apologise for blaming rape survivor: court

Lahore High Court summons report on security of Punjab roads
Photo: SAMAA Digital
Photo: SAMAA Digital

The Lahore CCPO and cabinet should've apologised for blaming the survivor in the Lahore motorway rape case, said Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Monday.

"What sort of a departmental head holds the victim responsible for the crime?" He asked while hearing a petition asking for the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the Lahore motorway rape case.

The CCPO can't even imagine how the women across Pakistan must've felt following his remarks, the judge remarked.

The chief justice has summoned a complete report from the government's lawyer. He has instructed the Punjab IG to submit a report on the security plan of all the roads. The police should patrol all the areas and ensure that all officers are present on duties, he directed.

The chief justice added that if something happens with someone on the roads, the government will be held responsible for it. The court wants the report by Wednesday. It has instructed that there should be no extra-judicial work.

CCPO Umar Shaikh appeared in court in the afternoon after he was summoned in the morning.

When he entered the courtroom, a woman lawyer sitting in front rows started arguing with the CCPO. "It's not your job to tell women at what time they can go out. Your job is to provide security," the lawyer said.

The CCPO responded: "I accept it's my responsibility. And I'll provide security."

Shaikh told the court that has served as the Motorway DIG. "This portion [of motorway] was operating without handing and taking over,” he remarked. Many motorways have been built in the last few years. “I have said in earlier meetings that we don't have the personnel to depute.” The people have been suffering because of the miscoordination between government departments.

The 130 [motorway helpline] person did the right thing by arranging a conference call of the woman and an FWO major. If I say something, I'll be blamed once again. She should have called 15. It's common sense, he said.

The chief justice asked him, why should she have called herself? "When she had called 130, they should have contacted 15. The major she talked to should have informed 15."

There's been a breakthrough in the case. It's not a challenge, it was just my duty, said the CCPO. "Whatever I had said, as a father and a brother, I apologise for it."

The government should apologise over such incidents, said Justice Khan.

"I promise that I will change Lahore in three months," CCPO Sheikh added.

A lawyer, Nadeem Sarwar, has filed the petition in the high court. In his petition, he has mentioned rape cases from 2018 and 2019 and asked the court to summon five years' worth of data on rape cases and make them public.

He has filed the petition against the province of Punjab, chief minister, IGP and CCPO. He said Lahore CCPO Umar Sheikh’s statements were lending support to the rapists.

His remarks about the woman’s decision to take the motorway with her children have been widely criticised by politicians and activists on social media.

CCPO apologises for his remarks

Lahore CCPO Umar Shaikh apologised on Monday for his remarks against the survivor of the Lahore motorway rape.

"I apologise if I hurt someone's feelings what my remarks," he said while speaking to the media outside Governor House in Lahore.

The CCPO held a meeting with Punjab Governor Ghulam Sarwar earlier in the day and briefed him on the case updates.

Umar Sheikh, the Lahore CCPO, appeared on Dunya News after the rape was reported on Thursday and preferred to talk about the survivor’s decision to take the motorway with her children before explaining what his force was doing to apprehend the criminals.

“The story is that this woman, if it is in your knowledge, left Defence at 12:30am for Gujranwala,” said CCPO Sheikh while talking to the news channel. “First, I am surprised that she, a mother of three children, chose to go without a driver. You left Defence, you [should] take the straight GT Road where there is population and go home.”

The chief of Lahore police then said the woman should have checked petrol in her car before taking the longer route because there are no petrol pumps on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway.

Lahore motorway rape case

A woman was raped in front of her children by two unidentified men on the motorway on September 9. She was driving to Gujranwala when she ran out of fuel near Lahore’s Gujjarpura. The woman was sitting in her vehicle when two men walked towards her car, broke her window, and made her park on the roadside. They then took her and the children to a nearby forest and raped her.

The Punjab IG has said that they have traced the suspects involved in the rape case. The police, however, weren’t unable to arrest them, he told the media in a press conference

The police have asked people to help them trace the suspects. The CM has even announced a Rs2.5 million award each for those who will help them. 

A show-cause notice has been issued to Punjab CCPO over his irresponsible remarks in the case. 


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