27 January 2023
By Rehan Piracha
A 13-year-old house help is being treated in intensive care with severe burn injuries after she was allegedly tortured by a woman and her two brothers at their house in South Cantonment, her family told Voicepk.net. The suspects are on pre-arrest bail till February 2.
The girl’s parents had rushed her to a local hospital after rescuing her from the house of their employer, a woman identified as Afshan, on January 20.
A case was registered against police sub-inspectors Nadim Khalid and his brother Akmal Khalid and their sister Afshan. The girl was serving as a worker in their house for the last nine months.
According to Muhammad Shahbaz, the husband of the victim’s elder sister, Afshah had employed the minor girl as a house help in Gulshan-e-Ravi where the girl’s family lived in the same locality.
“Afshah shifted to her parent’s house in KB Colony and took the minor girl along,” Shahbaz told Voicepk.net. He said the family had lost contact with the victim for the last two months.
According to the first information lodged with the South Cantonment police station, the girl’s parents came to see their daughter but the employers did not allow them to meet her on January 23.
Complainant Sakina, the girl’s mother, raised a hue and cry. Ultimately, the house owners took them inside the house, where the parents found their daughter with serious burn injuries.
The girl told her parents that Afshan and her brothers Nadim and Akmal had tortured and set her on fire by throwing a lit stove at her.
The parents shifted the girl to a local hospital. Shahbaz said the girl told the family that she sustained the burn injuries about a fortnight ago but she was not taken out for medical treatment since.
The minor victim is the third eldest child in a family of four sisters and three brothers.
Her father is a day labourer and they live in a rented house in the Gulshan-e-Ravi locality. Two of the eldest sisters are married, Shahbaz said. He said doctors told them that the girl was to undergo surgery soon.
According to investigation officer Samiullah, the three accused have secured pre-arrest bail till February 2. He confirmed that the suspects have not joined the police investigation yet.
“The accused would be arrested when their bail expires or is cancelled by the court,” he told Voicepk.net.
The accused have been charged with offences under Section 324 (attempt to premeditated murder) and Section 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Both offences carry a maximum punishment of seven years and two years respectively.
Interestingly, the accused have not been charged under the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019 which prohibits hiring domestic servants under the age of 15 years in the province.
According to the Punjab Domestic Workers Act 2019, any person who hires a child under the age of 15 but not less than 12 years as house help can be fined between Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000.
Following the media glare, caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi ordered the provincial police chief to submit a report on the torture incident. Lahore DIG Investigations Afzaal Ahmed Kauser inquired after the minor victim in the hospital and assured the girl’s father that police would conduct an impartial and fair investigation to bring the culprits to justice.
He said the accused police officials Nadim Khalid and his brother Akmal Khalid have been suspended from service.
On Friday, Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi also visited the hospital and met with the parents of the victim.