SANGHAR, Sept 15: Families of two rape victims in Sanghar and Umerkot districts protested on Sunday against police apathy and said that they were being coerced and threatened by the accused and police officials to drop the cases.

In Sanghar district, family of a young girl who was allegedly raped a few days ago slammed the Kotri police on Sunday for not arresting the assailant and his accomplices.

Speaking to journalists outside the press club, the family said that 14-year-old Salma Khaskheli, a student of class six and resident of Chak 41, had been allegedly raped by Ali Bux Khaskheli in Kotri a few days ago.

They said that Khaskheli had brought Salma and her mother, Pathani, to Hyderabad from Kotri where they had been staying on the pretext of collecting a cash grant worth Rs25,000 under the Benazir Income Support Programme on August 29.

They said that Khaskheli assaulted Salma in Kotri when her mother had been out to collect cash grant with one of his relatives. After confirmation of rape in medical tests, the family registered a case against Allah Bux Khaskheli, Qalandar Bux Khaskheli and Ms Shamshad, at the Kotri police station under sections 376 and 34 (rape and common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

They said that initially the Kotri police were not ready to register the case but they did so after the family obtained a court order from Sanghar.

The family claimed that they were being coerced to withdraw the case and settle it out of court and also feared physical harm from the accused.

They said that after the matter went to the sessions court in Sanghar, eight men, including three policemen, broke into their house and threatened them to drop the case.

After that a case was registered at the Mangli police station under sections 395 (dacoity), 458 (trespassing), 504 (intentional assault), 506/2 (intimidation) and 337 A1, F1 (inflicting harm) against the eight men.

The family said the accused and his accomplices had gone into hiding but police were not making any effort to arrest them.

Salma’s mother appealed to the chief justice for help in the case.

Meanwhile, talking to Dawn, Mangli SHO Hyder Bux said the police were conducting raids to arrest the suspects but declined to share details. Talking about the police officials involved in breaking into the Khaskheli family’s house, he said that they too had disappeared.

UMERKOT: In Umerkot district, Hema Kolhi along with her husband and children began a token hunger strike outside the local press club against police failure to arrest the culprits.

Hema was subjected to gang-rape on Aug 31 in Dost Mohammad Arisar village, near Athoon Mile in front of her husband and children. The assailants had also robbed the family of cash and jewelery.

Talking to journalists, Hema accused the Ghulam Nabi Shah police of showing leniency towards the accused. She said the suspects had managed to get an interim bail from the Sindh High Court on Thursday that had been cancelled because of their absence from the court hearing.

She said that even after cancellation of the bail, the accused were roaming around freely but the police were not ready to arrest them.

Hema’s husband, Par Khan, said that the main accused, Hanif Chandio, and his accomplices had been issuing threats to the family and also had the support of their landlord. He said the chief justice would have taken a suo motu notice of the case if his wife had not belonged to lower-caste Hindu family.

Hema said that she and her family would continue the hunger strike till the accused were arrested. They appealed to the chief justice, Sindh chief minister, police chief and other authorities concerned to provide the family protection and justice.