Actor Uzma Khan on Tuesday withdrew the case against three women and their armed guards whom she had accused last week of torturing her and her sister after angrily storming a house where she was staying in Lahore's DHA neighbourhood.
A former member of Uzma's legal team claimed that the two sides had reportedly reached a settlement which led to the withdrawal of charges, but no official confirmed this on record.
Video clips showing violence carried out on the actor and her sister Huma Khan, 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 (March 27) on Uzma's complaint against 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.
Uzma had later denied having cut a deal with the persons involved in the violence. “These are just rumours and I reject them making it clear that no such effort is being made,” she had told Dawn on Friday, adding that neither the suspects had contacted her for any deal nor would she accept it.
But on Tuesday, Uzma submitted an application to Defence C Police, saying the case she had gotten registered last week was lodged "on the basis of a misunderstanding" and that she no longer wants to pursue it.
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She said no challan had so far been submitted in the case. "I don't want to give any testimony or deposition in the above-stated case," Uzma added.
She recorded a similar statement before Judicial Magistrate Nauman Nasir of Lahore Cantt Courts under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), saying she wants to withdraw the case.
Her sister, Huma, in her separate statement recorded under Section 164 of CrPC said "no such occurrence" — a reference to the violence — had taken place at their house.
"[The] accused party has not made any torture upon me," she submitted, adding that the injuries she was seen to have sustained in social media videos were caused by broken "glass from [a] table".
She further said the suspects nominated in the FIR are "innocent".
"My sister namely Uzma Khan got registered the instant FIR due to misunderstanding. Therefore, the same may very kindly be cancelled," Huma added.
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A judicial magistrate in Lahore had last week issued arrest warrants for the three women nominated in the FIR on the request of the investigating officer, however, they obtained pre-arrest bail from a sessions court on Monday.
Legal counsel dissociate from case
The development came as two members of Uzma's legal team, Hassaan Niazi and Khadija Siddiqi, announced that they were dissociating themselves from the case.
"This is to announce that we are disassociating from #UzmaKhan case. I understand the reasons of any settlement by two aggrieved women in a rigged system; my conscience doesn’t allow me to be part of any of that, even in a professional capacity," Siddiqi said in a tweet.
Niazi, meanwhile, wrote: "Since the first day, I had made it clear to my client that we won’t be part of any settlement. I only accepted the case to support the resolve of Uzma to get justice for her."
Niazi told DawnNewsTV that they had tried to reach Uzma regarding the case on Sunday night, but she neither responded to their calls and messages nor was she available when a member of Niazi's team visited her.
The next day, Niazi said he received a message from an unidentified person stating that Uzma and her sister have reached a settlement with the suspects. "I was shocked," he added, saying they subsequently decided to dissociate themselves from the case.
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 Uzma and her sister. Another video that surfaced 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.
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.
Meanwhile, Malik Riaz had denied any involvement in the case, threatening to file a defamation lawsuit against anyone trying to "wrongfully implicate" him.
On Thursday, at a joint news conference at the Lahore Press Club, Uzma and her sister had demanded security of person and property, saying 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.
In a video message posted on her Twitter account on early Saturday, which has since been deleted, Uzma had again denied reports that she had reached a "compromise" with those involved in the violence and that she had moved to Dubai.
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 had said.
"My life is in danger," she had added, requesting the assistance of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari.