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KASUR: The administration had the audacity to rub salt into the wounds of Kasur people on Saturday by playing down the magnitude of the child abuse scandal that has left them devastated since it came to light last month.

The district police officer disputed media reports that the number of children affected was almost 300, basing his claim on a flimsy ground that only seven “complainants have approached us so far”.

Furthermore, he linked the scandal to a land dispute between two groups.

Also read: Child sex abuse case: Protesters clash with police over 'failure' to catch culprits

But the bravest of all was Rana Sanaullah, a minister in the Punjab cabinet. With a straight face, he dismissed the entire episode as “baseless”, according to Dawn.com.

Talking to newsmen, Rai Babbar, the DPO, said there were “certain misperceptions” about the scandal.

It was reported that about 280 children, most of them less than 14-year-old, of Husain Khanwala village, about 5km from Kasur, were sexually abused and filmed. Their families had been blackmailed, too.

Rai Babar said six of the accused would be challaned after completion of their remand of 14 days.

He said other five accused nominated in the FIR were on bail.

Mr Babar denied any political pressure in the case and said a joint investigation team constituted by the Punjab chief minister would complete its job in a week.

He said police had not found any proof that the number of victims ran into hundreds. “Announcements were made from mosques asking the victims to come to the police station and lodge complaints without any fear,” he said.

The DPO said only seven complainants had so far approached the police to lodge cases. The videos had been received from complainants, he added.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered arrest of the remaining accused named in the FIR.

He issued the orders after receiving the report of the JIT comprising Additional IG Operations Arif Nawaz Khan and Lahore Commissioner Abdulla Khan Sumbal.

The accused and their families had left the village, while protesters were also reluctant to remain there after a clash with police, leaving about 15 policemen injured.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan expressed shock at the scandal and said some of the parents, who accused the Punjab police of being hands in glove with perpetrators of the crime, had been arrested.

He said: “If we cannot protect our children and police give protection to perpetrators of the crime we will become an inhumane society.”

He called for immediate arrest of and exemplary punishment for the guilty and protection for young children across the country.

The DPO said the recovered videos showed that both the victims and the accused were under the age of 15. They are now grown-ups.

He said the years’ old matter had surfaced because of a dispute over an expensive state land and a political and local tussle, while some mischievous elements were adding fuel to the fire.

Mr Babar said the victims were in some of the videos and the accused in others. It was a group of boys and their activities were confined to them rather than to hundreds of children, he added.

Also read: Kasur child molestation scandal baseless, says inquiry report

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2015

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