ISLAMABAD: The complainant in the couple sexual harassment case backtracked from her allegation that she was subjected to torture and stripped by a gang in a flat in E-11 last year.

She was scheduled to testify and cross-examined before the trial court against the principal accused, Usman Mirza, and his accomplices on Tuesday. However, the complainant stated before the court that she did not wish to pursue the case.

She appeared before Additional District and Sessions Judge Atta Rabbani and sought permanent exemption from appearance, saying she could neither pursue the case nor want to appear in person before the court.

The judge, however, remarked that she had to appear on the court’s call.

Her counsel, Hassan Javed Shorish, told the judge that the couple had switched off their mobile phones and did not disclose any intention of making such allegations.

Talking to Dawn, the counsel said since the couple had engaged another lawyer, he cannot make any comment on continuity of the trial. The counsel for the accused persons told the court that he was ready to cross examine the woman.

However, the complainant said she never filed the complaint with the police, adding the investigation officer had taken her thumb impressions on blank papers. She also refused to identify the accused and said she saw them for the first time in the police station.

The judge offered to the defence counsel, Malik Javed Iqbal Wains, to start cross-examination on the complainant. However, the lawyer said there was no need for it after the complainant had given such a statement.

The sexual harassment case surfaced when a video of four people holding a couple at gunpoint, forcing them to strip and then beating them up went viral on social media in July 2021.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken notice of the incident and assured of strict action against the accused persons.

Initially, an FIR was registered under section 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 354A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her of her clothes), 506 (ii) (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of Pakistan Penal Code.

Later, sections pertaining to rape, sexual abuse, extortion, and wrongful confinement were also added to the FIR.

In September, charges were framed against the primary accused Usman Mirza and co-accused Hafiz Attaur Rehman, Adaras Qayyum Butt, Rehan, Umar Bilal Marwat, Mohib Bangash and Farhan Shaheen.

In July, the victims had identified three accused in an identification parade at Adiala Jail

Further proceeding in the matter has been adjourned till Jan 18.

Meanwhile, the capital police said the victims of the harassment case reached an out-of-court settlement with the accused.

In a statement, the police said the case had been registered with Golra police station after a video went viral on July 6.

The victims and the accused can easily be identified in the viral video.

The victims gave statements in front of a magistrate and also confirmed the incident. They also identified the flat in E-11/2 where the incident happened.

“On January 11, 2022, the couple backtracked from their previous statements given to the magistrate and did not identify the accused clearly seen in the video. They made out of court settlement.”

The police added that it would deal with the accused persons after consultation with the prosecution and on the basis of the forensic evidence.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2022

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