34 more suspects arrested in TikToker assault case as IGP seeks steps for women's safety in public spaces

Published August 23, 2021
Suspects are being presented in the court under heavy police security on August 23, 2021. — Photo by Rana Bilal
Suspects are being presented in the court under heavy police security on August 23, 2021. — Photo by Rana Bilal

Lahore police on Monday announced the arrest of 34 more suspects in connection with the assault of a female TikToker and her team at Lahore's Greater Iqbal Park on Independence Day, taking the total number of suspects in custody to 126.

Punjab Inspector General of Police Inam Ghani, in a statement, said police teams were working round the clock to arrest all suspects involved in the incident.

The provincial police chief said that 15 of the arrested suspects were being sent on judicial remand for identification.

He directed the Lahore DIG investigation to intensify efforts to arrest the remaining suspects with the help of geo-fencing and all evidence including records of Nadra.

The IG further said the elements who subjected women to violence, abuse and ill-treatment "do not deserve any concession" and asked supervisory officers to curb such crimes and share their reports with the central police office.

Ghani also asked police to take measures for protection of women in parks, at bus stands, educational institutions, markets and other public places and arrest culprits involved in gender-based crimes. He stressed that the prosecution of all such elements should not be delayed.

Identification parade

Meanwhile, a local court in Lahore on Monday sent 20 suspects to jail for identification parade, raising the total number of suspects held for the purpose to 90.

Judicial magistrate Faraz Javed Waraich issued the orders on the request of investigators. He asked the police to complete the identification exercise at the earliest.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari had last week detailed the initial arrests in the case, saying 24 men had been taken into custody through geo-fencing and matching records from Nadra.

Later in the day, 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.

On Aug 17, the Lorry Adda police had registered a case against nearly 400 suspects for harassing and assaulting the 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, 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 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.

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