30 more suspects sent to jail for identification parade in Minar-i-Pakistan assault case

Published August 22, 2021
Suspects in the assault case are being produced before the district courts with their faces covered. — Photo by author
Suspects in the assault case are being produced before the district courts with their faces covered. — Photo by author

A judicial magistrate in Lahore on Sunday sent 30 more suspects to jail for their identification parade in the case registered against the assault and harassment of TikToker Ayesha Akram (also known as Ayesha Baig) and her team members at the city's Greater Iqbal Park on Independence Day (August 14).

The city police had arrested 36 other suspects in the case on Saturday.

Police officials today produced 30 suspects before the court under strict security arrangements. The suspects were brought to the district courts in a prison van with their faces covered.

The investigation officer sought the court’s permission to conduct the identification parade of the suspects to identify the culprits involved in the incident.

He told the magistrate that the complainant would try to identify the suspects in the jail.

The magistrate allowed police to shift the suspects to the judicial lockup for 14 days and directed the jail authorities to make special arrangements for the identification parade.

On Saturday, a judicial magistrate had sent another 40 suspects in the case to jail for their identification parade.

Some of the suspects alleged before the court during yesterday's hearing that the TikToker had herself invited them to Minar-i-Pakistan to make videos. They asked the court to order the police to also arrest the TikToker and her team members to reveal the facts of the incident.

Civil society activists protest at the Greater Iqbal Park against growing incidents of women harassment at public places. — White Star/File
Civil society activists protest at the Greater Iqbal Park against growing incidents of women harassment at public places. — White Star/File

The parents of some of the suspects also gathered outside the court and claimed that their sons had been wrongly arrested by the police.

Lahore Capital City Police Officer Ghulam Mahmood Dogar said police had geo-fenced 28,000 people and shortlisted 350 suspects to grill them in the case.

A spokesperson for the Punjab government said nearly 100 suspects had been taken into custody in the case so far.

Police had registered the First Information Report against 400 unidentified persons for assaulting and molesting the complainant and stripping her.

Sections 354-A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her), 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 have been included in the FIR.

Assaulted by hundreds

The incident occurred on August 14 when hundreds of youngsters were celebrating Independence Day at the park. Police moved into action on Tuesday after videos of the episode went viral and sparked an outrage on social media.

Editorial: The trauma and anger among Pakistani women after the mob assault near Minar-i-Pakistan is palpable

According to the FIR of the incident, the complainant stated that she, along with six companions, was 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 quoted 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.

She further stated that her companions were also assaulted. During the struggle, her ring and earrings were "forcibly taken", in addition to a mobile phone of one of her companions, his identity card and Rs15,000 that he had on his person.

"The unidentified persons assaulted us violently," the complainant added.

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