Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said on Friday that 24 men had been taken into custody through geo-fencing and matching record from National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for harassing and assaulting a female TikToker and her companions at Lahore's Greater Iqbal Park on Independence Day.
The incident had drawn police attention after videos of the episode went viral and sparked outrage on social media.
In a post on Twitter, the minister said “more arrests are expected today” in connection with the “condemnable” incident.
She said a police inquiry was also underway against alleged negligence of police officers in the assault case.
Minutes later, following a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and other senior officials, the provincial police chief said senior police officers had been suspended for negligence and delayed response in dealing with the incident.
“We have suspended SHO and SDPO whereas Divisional SP, SSP Operations and DIG Operations Lahore have been removed from their posts,” Inspector General Inam Ghani wrote on Twitter.
Ghani said “strict departmental action will be taken once inquiry committee submits its detailed report on the role and response of other officers.”
On Aug 17, the Lorry Adda police had registered a case against nearly 400 suspects for harassing and assaulting a woman at Azadi Flyover.
The first-information report (FIR) was registered under sections 354-A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her of her clothes), 382 (theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to commit the theft), 147 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
In the FIR registered at the Lorry Adda police station, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the complainant stated that she, along with six companions, were filming a video near Minar-i-Pakistan on Independence Day when around 300 to 400 people "attacked us".
She said that she and her companions made a lot of effort to escape from the crowd. Observing the situation, the park's security guard opened the gate to the enclosure around Minar-i-Pakistan, the FIR quotes her as saying.
"However, the crowd was huge and people were scaling the enclosure and coming towards us. People were pushing and pulling me to the extent that they tore my clothes. Several people tried to help me but the crowd was too huge and they kept throwing me in the air," she said.
Azhar Mashwani, Punjab chief minister's focal person for digital media, had on Wednesday said that "strong and non-bailable clauses" had been added to the FIR.
He added that CM Buzdar had ordered police to arrest all culprits "ASAP [as soon as possible]".
In a meeting on Thursday, Buzdar had formed a committee to investigate the role of the Parks & Horticulture Authority (PHA) and look into the responsibility and negligence of PHA officials during the incident and submit a report in this regard.
Terming it a "test case", Buzdar had said it should be brought to its logical conclusion at the earliest.