An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Tuesday sent to jail a suspect in the highway rape gang case with a 14-day detention.
Shafqat Ali alias Bagga, whose arrest was announced by Punjab Chief Usman Buzdar on Monday as a breakthrough in the case, was brought to court by Gujjarpura police in an armored car and appeared before the judge with his face covered.
Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta also approved a request from the prosecution to hold an identity parade of the suspect.
The investigating officer in the case, Inspector Zulfiqar, presented the suspect’s details and requested a 14-day detention measure, saying a Shafqat identity parade should be held. He told the court that the suspect’s DNA had matched the samples collected from the scene.
While approving the motion, the judge instructed police to make “special arrangements” for the suspect’s identity parade to be held as soon as possible and to ensure that he does not mingle with the other suspects.
Police were ordered to bring the suspect back to court on September 29.
During the hearing, Judge Bhutta asked the suspect if he had anything to say. “Have mercy, please […] “Release me,” Shafqat replied.
The judge told him his DNA matched the samples, saying: “You will be released if you do nothing.”
On Wednesday evening, two robbers on the Lahore-Sialkot highway raped a mother with two children in front of her children in an area falling under the jurisdiction of Gujjarpura police. The incident sparked outrage across the country and brought sexual violence against women into the national focus.
Arrest of Shafqat
Shafqat was arrested after the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Police raided a house in Okara district. He admitted the crime before his DNA matched the samples collected from the crime scene, dawn learned on monday.
The suspect was apprehended after the technical and human intelligence that led the department to his location. Acting on a tip-off, a CTD team interrogated several persons from Lahore to Sheikhupura and then to Depalpur in Okara district before reaching the suspect.
A senior officer told him dawn that the CTD conducted an intelligence-based operation (IBO) and arrested Shafqat from his sisters’ home in Depalpur late Sunday night. He said the other main suspect, Abid Ali, who was still at large, had summoned Shafqat several times before and after the rape.
During questioning, Shafqat told detectives that Abid had first raped the woman and then asked him to commit the crime while threatening to shoot her (Shafqat) for not committing the crime or showing sympathy for the victim.
As they had just raped the woman, they noticed Dolphin Squad personnel arriving on site, the official said. As soon as a Dolphin official fired a warning fire into the air, the two suspects fled the scene and hid in a jungle near Karol Ghati for two hours or more to avoid arrest. Then they left the country and reached Sheikhupura at the house of Abid Ali in Ghazi Kot, Qila Sattar Shah, in Tehsil Ferozewala of Sheikhupura district. Abid had bought this house with two marls about three years ago.
Abid and Shafqat turned off their cell phones. Shafqat left Abids house and arrived in Depalpur where he was employed in a cold warehouse. As more news of the crime surfaced in the media, he preferred to stay away from his place of work and hid in his sister’s house which was probably unaware of his involvement in the crime, the officer informed. dawn. Abid also fled his home and went underground to avoid arrest when he learned of the massive media coverage.
Answering a question about the presence of suspects in the same place where the victim and her children were waiting for help on the Lahore-Sialkot highway, Shafqat said it was a gang of four hardened criminals, namely Abid Ali, Ali Sher, Iqbal alias Bala and himself, who committed crimes in Sheikhupura and other cities.
Abid and Ali Sher were arrested by the Factory Zone police in Sheikhupura probably on August 8 this year when they robbed a citizen while their third accomplice, Shafqat, had fled the scene, the official said. Of these, Abid managed to secure bail from a local court while Sher was still in jail. The fourth accomplice, Iqbal, was living in Karol Ghati (near the place of the gang rape), he said, adding that Abid had suggested to them that since they were on Sheikhupura police radar, they should change the crime area and decided to robbed people near Karol Ghati. For this, Abid and Shafqat arrived at the same place the day they attacked the woman.
The officer said that according to the plan, Abid and Shafqat called Iqbal to arrive in the country, but he refused to join them due to some family commitments. While the two were looking for their prey, Abid noticed a car with hazard lights and the woman along with her children in it. They both reached the woman and since Abid was a common rapist, he along with Shafqat raped her, the officer said.
Punjab Legal Science Agency (PFSA) officials also confirmed for dawn that Shafqat’s DNA matched that of the victim.
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