GUJRAT: Police have sent the evidence related to the case of a married woman’s rape on the orders of a panchayat (village council) who later committed suicide, for examination at the Lahore Forensic Science Laboratory.

The specimen of the suspect’s sperm and the piece of cloth in which the stillborn baby was kept and later on buried somewhere near Mayo Hospital in Lahore, have been sent for DNA matching since the deceased woman had stated before the police at the hospital that she got pregnant after being raped by the suspect at Dhilu Gharbi village.

According to the case lodged with the Saddar Jalalpur Jattan police on Nov 10, the alleged rape incident occurred around seven months ago whereas the woman attempted suicide in her in-laws’ house in Barnala police precincts of Bhimbher district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir on Oct 18. She later succumbed to her wounds at the Mayo Hospital, Lahore and recorded her statement to Bhimbher police officials.

According to deceased’s statement, her father Liaqat had allegedly attempted to molest a six-year-old girl and police had arrested him. Later, a panchayat brought about “reconciliation” between the two sides by issuing alleged orders that the minor’s father would rape her. She was allegedly raped for the release of her father from jail.

She added that she had attempted suicide to avoid shame at the hands of her husband who had returned from abroad. In his absence, she had been living with her parents for the past one year.

However, police and some locals claimed that no such incident took place on the orders of panchayat.

A senior police official told Dawn that the woman had set herself ablaze after a quarrel with her husband, who had returned from abroad a few days ahead of the incident, after he found her writing text messages. However, police had been investigating the case from that angle, besides working on the forensic evidence, he said.

The suspect who is in police custody denied rape.

DPO Sohail Zafar Chatha said forensic report might clear things. Police might also involve a man in investigation who had flown to South Africa, he said, adding that efforts were on to bring the suspect back to Pakistan by involving his family.

He said the deceased’s husband also told police that he did not know about his wife’s pregnancy until she attempted suicide and doctors informed him about it.

The DPO said usually the forensic reports took three to four weeks but every effort would be made to get the report within a week or earlier than that.

Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2016