LAHORE: The father of Abid Malhi, the prime suspect in the motorway gang-rape case, belies the Lahore police claim of arresting him after strenuous efforts and claims that he (Malhi) voluntarily surrendered to police.

The case took a new turn on Tuesday when the video statement of Malhi’s father Akbar Ali went viral on social media.

Earlier, the Lahore police claimed arrest of the wanted man and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at a press conference on Tuesday repeated the police version of arresting Abid Malhi during a raid at the residence of his parents in Manga Mandi and announced Rs5 million reward for the investigation team.

Akbar Ali’s assertion was corroborated when it transpired that Malhi was taken to the police station by Ali’s neighbour Khalid Butt who had convinced him to court arrest.

In the video clip, Ali expressed concern about the well-being and security of his daughters who have been in police custody.

“For God sake release my daughters in return of the arrest of my son Abdi Malhi,” he appealed to the Lahore police higher-ups. He said there was no justification to keep them in police custody now.

“My daughters are respectable and deserve to live normal lives,” he said while pointing out that his daughters were in police custody in Kasur and Manga Mandi.

The Lahore police had taken several relatives and members of Malhi’s family into custody and later set his parents and wife at liberty according to what police said a strategy to trap the suspect.

“After staying in hiding for a month or so, Malhi called me by phone and expressed his desire to surrender to police,” his father Ali said. “According to his promise, Malhi returned home in Manga Mandi at 6:30pm on Monday and I (Ali) called the police personnel who were on the rooftop of my house. I also called Khalid Butt and handed over my son to him asking him to take him to the police station by his car because I am too feeble and even unable to walk,” according to the video clip. Answering a question, he again made it clear that Abid Malhi was not taken to the police station by police. “The police personnel on guard at my residence escorted the car of Khalid Butt to the police station,” he said.

Earlier, the IGP in a statement released to the media late on Monday, the day Malhi surrendered himself to the police, claimed that police had arrested him in a raid at the house of his parents in Manga Mandi.

On Wednesday night, Khalid Butt released a statement in support of the Lahore police saying police had arrested prime suspect Abid Malhi when he was trying to escape from the house of his parents in Manga Mandi. He, however, confirmed that the police personnel deployed in and around the residence of Akbar Ali did not have any official vehicle to shift Malhi to the police station.

“I got a call from DSP CIA Model Town Hasnain Haider Shah when I was sitting at my office and he said police had arrested Abid Malhi.” The DSP, he said, requested him to bring his (Khalid Butt’s) car to shift the suspect to the police station.

A senior police officer who was part of the investigation team said all the family members of Akbar Ali had been released.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2020