LAHORE: After awaiting action against those who had uploaded and shared her doctored images on social media and WhatsApp, a woman in Depalpur town of Okara district reportedly ended her life on Sunday.
The suspects, who were allegedly close relatives of the victim, had edited her pictures to show her in a compromising position. Later, those pictures were uploaded to social media and sent to her neighbours and relatives on WhatsApp.
In her complaint with the cybercrime wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on July 18, she had named all the suspects, saying that their action had made her life ‘almost hell’ and endangered her family.
Talking about the incident, an official told Dawn that before uploading the pictures, the suspects had allegedly assaulted the victim’s seven-year-old daughter physically and fractured her arms.
After the pictures were shared, the elders of the family on both sides tried to resolve the matter instead of reporting it to police and ordered the attackers to pay for the child’s treatment as compensation.
However, the suspects violated the agreement and delayed the payment of compensation money.
Following days of requests to take action against the culprits, the woman, a mother of four, took her own life by swallowing poison, said the victim’s family.
They complained that the FIA had sufficient time to proceed against the culprits, but the inordinate delay and procedural requirements led to her death.
Since the pictures went viral, the victim was under immense pain and agony, watching her daughter crying inconsolably and facing harsh questions from her husband and close relatives, the family added.
Meanwhile, Okara DPO Furqan Bilal told Dawn that police had arrested three suspects nominated by the victim in her complaint with the FIA and raids were being conducted to arrest the others.
He said the suspects included the victim’s relatives Taimur, Zeeshan and a woman Fatima.
According to the complaint filed with the FIA, a copy of which is available with Dawn, the victim said the culprits had taken her pictures and edited her face over a naked body. Then, those pictures were sent on WhatsApp to her neighbours and relatives.
“The suspect Fatima recorded a voice message and shared it along with my edited pictures, asking my relatives to share them further,” she claimed in her complaint.
Although the FIA had assigned a woman inspector from Lahore to investigate the case, the victim’s family said the agency did nothing to protect the complainant and the culprits continued to blackmail her.
Sarfraz Khan Virk, Additional Director of FIA for Cybercrime in Punjab, told Dawn a lady inspector had called the suspect for interrogation in the first week of September, but the complainant told the authority to close the matter as it had been resolved by the family’s elders.
Later, the complainant again visited the FIA Lahore’s office and asked officials to initiate proceedings as the elders couldn’t decide her case.
“As we started proceedings, we couldn’t get evidence of direct involvement of the suspected woman,” Mr Virk said, adding that he had also sought the custody of another suspect and ordered forensic analysis of his mobile phone.
To a question, Mr Virk said during the investigation it was confirmed that the suspects deliberately edited the victim’s pictures to show her a woman of bad character.
He added that the investigation was going on when he was informed that the complainant had died.
However, FIA officials have complained of lack of resources and manpower to vigorously pursue such cases.
Nabila’s case was one of the 44,000 pending with the cybercrime wing of the FIA. Around 18,000 of those cases have been filed by women.
Officials said that given the enormous backlog, it was difficult to investigate all pending cases as there were very few women investigation officers.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2022