A judicial magistrate in Lahore on Friday issued arrest warrants for three women who angrily stormed a house in the city's DHA neighbourhood where actor Uzma Khan was staying and allegedly tortured Uzma and her sister.
Video clips showing torture carried out on the actor and her sister, allegedly by the daughters of property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, had sparked outrage and calls for justice on social media earlier this week.
A first information report (FIR) of the incident was registered on Wednesday on Uzma's complaint. The persons nominated in the FIR include Riaz's daughters Pashmina Malik and Ambar Malik, Amina Usman Malik (wife of Usman Malik), and 15 unidentified armed men — the private guards with whom the three women had entered the house seen in video clips.
On Thursday, Defence C police filed an application in Cantt Kachhery seeking the arrest warrants of the three women.
During the hearing of the application on Friday, the state lawyer representing the police informed the court that Amina, Pashmina and Ambar had all gone missing and were not joining the investigation of the case despite being summoned by police. They requested the court to issue their arrest warrants so that the case could be resolved on merit.
Judicial Magistrate Ghulam Shabbir Sial in his order noted that the investigating officer had sought the warrants on the grounds that the suspects "have intentionally concealed themselves and are avoiding" their arrest.
The IO made efforts for the suspects' arrest but they "could not be arrested", the magistrate noted, approving the police application and issuing the arrest warrants for the three women.
Videos show violence, abuse
A heated discussion had started on social media after several video clips had gone viral in which a few women accompanied by armed men in security guards’ uniform were seen storming a house and confronting actor Uzma and her sister. Another video that came out later showed a woman who said she had gone to the house chasing her husband, Usman Malik, and a woman he was allegedly having an affair with. This woman, identified as Amina, was said to be aided in the act by Pashmina and Ambar.
In one of the earlier videos, Uzma, who shot to fame with her movie Jawani Phir Nahi Ani, could be seen terrified and pleading for mercy.
Other clips showed the attacking women abusing Uzma and her sister Huma, slapping them, and hurling life threats at them for having "relations with Usman". The videos also showed shattered glass and damaged articles in the house.
On Wednesday, the actor filed an application with the Lahore police seeking action against the attackers and the armed men, following which the FIR was registered.
Later, in a video message, Amina defended herself and the two other women seen in the video clips, alleging that Uzma had tried to break up her 13-year-old marriage by developing relations with her husband. She added that her husband had "nothing to do with Malik Riaz Hussain" and was "not part of his immediate family".
"This is being done to malign Malik Riaz. This is a personal spat between Hassaan Khan Niazi and Malik Riaz Hussain," she said. Niazi is part of Uzma's legal team.
Meanwhile, Malik Riaz denied any involvement in the case.
"I categorically rebut this malicious propaganda associating me with a viral video. Usman is not my nephew. I’m appalled at such below the belt attempt to malign me for something I’m not involved in any capacity," he said on Twitter, threatening to file a defamation lawsuit against anyone trying to "wrongfully implicate" him.
Later on Thursday, at a joint news conference at the Lahore Press Club, Uzma and her sister demanded security of person and property.
Uzma and Huma, who were flanked by lawyers Mian Ali Ashfaq and Barrister Niazi, complained that they had received life threats. They didn’t specify the source of these threats.
Uzma claimed that Usman Malik had been wanting to marry her for the last two years. She said she did not know Usman’s wife and saw her for the first time the day the woman barged into her house along with security guards.
'My life is in danger'
In a new video message posted on her Twitter account on early Saturday, Uzma denied reports that she had reached a "compromise" with those involved in the violence and that she had moved to Dubai.
She said she was in Lahore and had requested IG Punjab to meet her, adding that some of the IG's subordinates were suggesting that she enter into a compromise while there were others who were supporting her.
The actor said she will follow the IG's advice, whether it is pursuing the case or reaching a settlement.
She said people were advising her to make a "deal" with the assailants, saying her life was in danger. "But I have already died after what they have done to me ... they have defamed me before the whole world," she said.
She added that police officers were "not cooperating" with her and neither were they arresting the three women.
"My life is in danger," she said, requesting for assistance from Prime Minister Imran Khan and Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari.