LAHORE: Police on Tuesday arrested five of the 10 suspects allegedly involved in torture, assault, stripping and filming four trash picking women after accusing them of theft in a Faisalabad market.

One of the women later lodged a complaint with Millat Town police station, stating she was collecting solid waste with her three female companions on Monday around 10:30am at the Bawa Chak Market, Yousaf Chowk, when she felt thirsty and went inside a shop -- Usman Electric Store -- owned by one Saddam and asked for a bottle of water.

She said Saddam got annoyed and yelled at them and alleged that they entered his shop to steal money and electronic appliances. She stated that Saddam also called other shopkeepers and his helpers, who started beating them.

The complainant alleged that the suspects also stripped them and dragged them through the market.

“They continued to beat us for around an hour and recorded our videos,” she said.

Later, family members of the four women reached the market and pleaded to the suspects to let them go.

The complainant demanded action against the suspects.

Acting on the complaint, the police registered a case against four nominated suspects -- Saddam, Faisal, Zaheer Anwar and Faqeer Hussain (Saddam’s employees) -- and 10 unidentified persons, under sections 354-A (assault or use of criminal force against a woman and stripping her), 509 (violating modesty or causing sexual harassment), 147 (punishment for rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly guilty of an offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

A suspect charged under section 354-A can be punished with death or life imprisonment.

City Police Officer (CPO) Dr Abid Khan told Dawn that all the nominated suspects in the case were arrested and the videos also confirmed their involvement in the crime.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, taking notice of the incident, sought a report from the Faisalabad regional police officer (RPO) and ordered action against the culprits after conducting a probe.

Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Rao Sardar Ali Khan said the suspects involved in the incident did not deserve any sympathy.

He said the police had arrested all the suspects involved in the incident and further legal action was being taken against them.

Mr Khan said Faisalabad police had first arrested two suspects and later three more were held.

The IGP said a policy of “zero tolerance” was being followed with regard to incidents of violence, harassment and abuse of women and children so that the culprits could be punished severely by the courts.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2021

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