MULTAN, June 10: Mukhtaran, the Meerwala gang-rape victim, has accused the government of forcibly restricting her movement so that she could not meet her lawyers and sympathizers.

Talking to Dawn on telephone from Meerwala on Friday, she said she had been confined by the police to her home for the last 10 days. “This is tantamount to frustrating me in my quest for justice,” she said.

She said she was scheduled to meet her lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan in Lahore on Friday to discuss the status of her appeal pending with the Supreme Court against acquittal of her ‘tormentors’ by the Lahore High Court, but the Muzaffargarh police did not allow her to proceed.

She said a police contingent, comprising 20 personnel, had been deployed at her house for the last 10 days. Ironically, she said, she had to provide meals to the policemen three times a day. The contingent in-charge had told her that she would have to seek permission from the district police authorities whenever she wanted to move outside her village.

Mukhtaran said she had, therefore, sought permission from the acting Muzaffargarh district police officer, Malik Liaquat, who had allowed her to proceed to Lahore. However, a police contingent forced her to go back when she had just set off for the provincial capital on Thursday.

Commenting on the release orders of the accused detained for maintenance of public order in her case, she said: “My tormentors are now free to move while I have been house-arrested for all practical purposes.”

She said an interior ministry official had recently informed her that her name had been placed on the Exit Control List to stop her from moving abroad.

Shocked at the disclosure, she said she could not understand why her name had been included in the ECL. “I am being harassed systematically to be discouraged to carry on my struggle for justice, she said, but vowed to “fight (for justice) till my last breath.”

Mukhtaran said some federal government officials had recently visited her and advised her not to talk to journalists and rights activists if she wanted the government to be on her back. Their logic was that her media exposure painted a bad image of the country in the international community. “No one will have to seek help of the media and the rights activists if police and courts in the country dispense justice without any prejudice,” she remarked.

The Meerwala gang-rape victim said she was as patriotic as any other Pakistani could be, but this did not mean that one should not raise voice against oppression. She said she was determined to leave for Lahore on Saturday (today) to meet her lawyer and would try her utmost to defy her unannounced confinement.

She also urged the apex court to take up her appeal against acquittal of her ‘tormentors’ at the earliest.

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