LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday sought a report from Advocate General Punjab Naveed Rasool Mirza, Inspector General Police Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera and Home Secretary Punjab Azam Suleman to determine if the Kasur child abuse case can be tried in an anti-terrorism court (ATC).
A petition filed by Advocate Aftab Ahmed Bajwa in the LHC on Monday was heard by LHC Chief Justice Manzoor Ahmed. The petition stated that since the case is of a serious nature, it should be tried in an ATC.
The report will describe what sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act ─ in particular, Section 7 of the ATA, "Punishment for acts of terrorism" ─ are applicable to the case in order to decide whether the case can be tried in an ATC.
Police have contacted victims' families to inform them that Section 7/ATA has been included in the seven First Information Reports lodged against the accused.
The LHC CJ ordered the SP Investigation and SHOs to present the report in a hearing which is scheduled to take place tomorrow.
Reports of the sexual abuse of about 280 children have shocked the country. Most of the victims who are from Husain Khanwala village near Kasur are less than 14-years-old. The victims were sexually abused and filmed by members of a gang. Their families had also been blackmailed by the gang since 2009.
A property dispute allegedly brought the issue to the surface.
Four more complainants
Relatives of four more victims have come forward to register their complaints in the child abuse scandal.
An application was filed by family members claiming that the victims had been abused at gunpoint.
Five accused presented in ATC
Five of the accused in the case, Tanzeelur Rehman, Ateequr Rehman, Obaidur Rehman, Wasim and Yahya were presented before Lahore's ATC-IV.
Investigating Officer Inspector Shah Waliullah of the Ganda Singhwala police station accompanied the accused for the hearing being conducted by Judge Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah.
Also read: Editorial: Victims of abuse
Unicef urges govt to deliver justice
“No child should suffer violence, abuse or exploitation; the horrific crimes in Kasur underline how we must all do more to protect children from such abuses,” Unicef Regional Deputy-Director for South Asia Philippe Cori said.
The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) local chief said, “Recent reports of children being sexually abused over a period of several years in the Kasur district are appalling."
Unicef is in contact with the Government authorities to understand the full dimension of this crime, he added.
Cori expressed hope that “every effort will be made by the government to bring to justice those responsible for these terrible abuses.”
Unicef is ready to expand its work with local and national authorities to increase such efforts, so that no child has to suffer these terrible horrors, he asserted.
(With additional input by Mateen Haider)