A mother of three was robbed and raped in front of two of her children after getting stranded on the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway early on Tuesday when her car ran out of fuel. The incident, which has shocked the nation, has spurred demands for the immediate arrest of the perpetrators and their execution by public hanging. Citizens have also asked why security officials were not dispatched promptly enough to help the victim and prevent the crime.
“The area where the assault happened, near Link Road, is the Punjab police’s jurisdiction,” IG Imam explained.
“This is the Lahore-Sialkot section of the Motorway, constructed by the Frontier Works Organization (FWO),” he said, recalling that its soft opening was held in March.
He said the road is currently out of NHMP’s jurisdiction and that Motorway Police will be deployed there once resources are made available. He said NHMP is still in the process of calculating financial costs of doing so, including hiring human resources and logistics equipment.
SOS calls by victim/family
The Motorway IG said a phone call was received by the Motorway Police helpline ‘130’ at around 02:01am. The officer on call ascertained the victim’s location to be near the Link Road, Imam said.
“The duty officer told her that the location is out of [NHMP’s] jurisdiction,” he said.
“Nonetheless, [the officer] contacted the FWO on their helpline ‘0309’ and they responded promptly. The woman was put through to the FWO official while her call [to Motorway Police] was recording. They gave a contact number to the woman,” Imam stated.
However, the victim did not receive any help from the FWO either.
Meanwhile, a Dolphin Force official said they had received 15 calls at 2:49am and reached the spot of the incident at 2:53am. The official said he found the woman in shock and unable to speak. It took some time for her to narrate the incident, he reported.
On the other hand, CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh said the victim had not called the police herself for help. Instead, some of her relatives had called Motorway Police at 1:30am.
However, the Motorway IG stuck to his claim, saying that the woman had told the NHMP official about the fuel exhaustion issue.
He said it cannot be said for sure as to when the incident took place after 2am, but noted that the FIR says it happened around 3am.
“We are in coordination with Lahore police and raids are being conducted. Hopefully, we’ll arrest the culprits,” he added.
Senate body takes notice and summons CCPO Lahore
Senate Committee for Human Rights Chairman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar has taken notice of the incident and summoned Secretary Communication, IG Punjab Police and IG Motorway on September 16 to appear before the committee.
CCPO Lahore Umar Sheikh has also been summoned for clarification on his statements blaming the victim for the assault.
Instructing the authorities to submit a final report, Khokhar asked why Motorway Police did not respond to calls for help from the woman. He said that a woman being assaulted on the motorway and police not coming to help her is a matter of serious concern.