Motorway gang rape: Police ‘tightening noose’ around fleeing suspect

Updated 17 Sep 2020

Email

A supporter of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) carries a sign against the gang-rape that occurred along the motorway near Lahore during a demonstration in Karachi. — Reuters/File
A supporter of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) carries a sign against the gang-rape that occurred along the motorway near Lahore during a demonstration in Karachi. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: Inspector General of Punjab Police Inam Ghani said on Wednesday some possible hideouts of the co-suspect in motorway gang-rape case, Abid Malhi, who was still at large, had been identified by law-enforcing agencies that were getting closer to the most-wanted criminal.

There were also late night unconfirmed reports that the law enforcement agencies have either reached close to Malhi or arrested him. However, the IGP denied the reports of his arrest.

Earlier, a Punjab police team conducted a raid on a “possible hideout” of the suspect at Sheikhupura to arrest him, but of no avail.

An official privy to the development said the police authorities were focusing on some cities, including Lahore, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad etc, where the suspect could be hiding to avoid his arrest.

He said a proposal to recommend to the federal government to place Malhi’s name on the ECL (exit control list) was also being considered, though it was not unlikely he would flee abroad.

There are also apprehensions that the police authorities may not be too keen to nab Abid, after the arrest of Shafqat Ali, the other suspect in the case.

However, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghani rejected such apprehensions while speaking to Dawn. He added the law enforcement agencies were working on all possible leads and were fully alert in this regard.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar are taking daily reports from police authorities on progress with regard to the efforts being made to arrest the fleeing suspect Abid Malhi,” he said.

“We have obtained a list of the telephone numbers of Abid’s relatives, friends and other contacts whom he had been meeting, calling or contacting frequently”, the IGP said.

Mr Ghani added that some places had been identified by the LEAs where the suspect might be hiding.

To a question, he said various teams of police and agencies were working on the case which had “largely been resolved” by making arrest of the other suspect, Shafqat Ali.

On the other hand, sources in the police said the delay in arresting the “habitual rapist” Malhi was increasing frustration in the public as a campaign in this regard was gathering momentum on social media.

The social media activists are questioning the professionalism and capability of the Punjab police, arguing that the so far failure to arrest an ordinary criminal, who is not a trained terrorist, was a matter of serious concern.

Meanwhile, the Lahore police have reportedly released relatives and friends of two other suspects — Waqasul Hassan and his brother in-law Abbas — who were detained in connection with the case.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2020