June 12, 2023

By Ahmed Saeed


A cleric in Lahore’s Raiwind area allegedly attempted to strangle to death an eight-year-old after he had repeatedly raped him inside his madrassah on June 7.

According to the FIR, accused Qari Muhammad Rizwan fractured the minor’s arm during torture. Rizwan then shoved the boy down a flight of stairs from the first floor to the ground floor, which resulted in serious head injuries that rendered the boy unconscious.

The survivor’s father, Saleem, who works as a labourer, informed Voicepk.net that his son has been shifted to a nearby private hospital. He added that he learned of the incident the next morning through an acquaintance.

“My son is currently in Children’s Hospital Lahore, fighting for his life. He remains unconscious, and doctors are doing their best to save him. We are praying for a miracle,”

Saleem said.

The police filed an FIR on June 10, three days after the incident, under section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

SHO Abrar Haider of Raiwind City Police Station stated that one accused has been arrested, while the other accused is still at large.


Police fail to conduct medico-legal

Saleem complained that his son’s medico-legal examination of the survivor has yet to be conducted yet, and that the police are not cooperating with the family.

“The police are asking me to take my child to a public hospital in Raiwind city, but his condition is not stable enough to be transferred to another facility,” he said.

SHO Abrar clarified that the police have no role in the delay of the medico-legal examination as it is the responsibility of the hospital.

However, Shabbir Hussain, a criminal law expert, told Voicepk.net that after the registration of the FIR, it is the police’s responsibility to conduct a medico-legal examination of the survivor.


Non-compliance with new anti-rape law

Hussain also pointed out that the police did not lodge the FIR under the appropriate sections of the PPC. He stated that the case should have been filed under sections 376 (rape) and 324 (attempted murder) of the PPC.

“After the enactment of the 2021 anti-rape act, rape is now a gender-neutral offence, and the police should have filed this case under section 376(3) of the PPC as well section 324 as the cleric tried to kill the boy,”

he added.

Executive Director of the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS) Nida Aly said that it was unfortunate oversight that the FIR was not registered according to the correct provision of the new rape law.

“Such measures are used to avoid convictions. FIRs being registered under section 376 are also not being investigated under the anti-rape law, which points to an unwillingness of law enforcement to take these crimes seriously,” she stated, adding that there is also a visible lack of awareness and training of various actors of the criminal justice system to ensure justice for rape survivors.

Section 376(3) states that whoever commits rape of a minor or a person with mental or physical disabilities shall be punished with death or life imprisonment.

When contacted, SHO Abrar stated that the police would add the relevant sections of the PPC in its supplementary report if required.


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