PAKISTAN: No investigation into Police-participated rape/murder case

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-084-2009
21 July 2009

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that no investigation is being done into the rape and murder of a woman last year by a group of men, which included two police officers. Station heads have allegedly requested bribes from the victim’s family and accepted large sums from the accused, and no investigation has been done. The family has reported an escalation in threats pressuring them to withdraw their case, one being that the victim’s daughters will soon suffer her fate. They have asked for protection but have received none. The AHRC is gravely concerned for their safety, and for those living under the jurisdiction of Cantt police station, where there appears to be gross corruption and scant regard for the rule of law.

CASE DETAILS: (According to relatives of the victim and staff at a local NGO)
On August 23, 2008, the Aslam family realised that Shehnaz Bibi, a local matchmaker and mother of six, had gone missing. When they called her mobile phone an angry former client answered, instructing them to take Rs 100,000 to an address (11 Mohamdi Colony Street) in return for their mother’s safe release, but they later found no one there.

The next day, after questioning the client’s estranged wife Abida, the victim’s husband and a welding shop worker, Mr. Muhammad Aslam, lodged FIR (First Information Report: a first step for filing cases) number 271/08 at Cantt Police Station in Sargodha. It reported the information given to him by Abida: that his wife had been kidnapped by Ghulam Hussain Gujjar with the help of various other men, including two police officers: Elite Force head constable Zia Ulhassan and Mohammad Sardar Gujjar, an officer at the licensing branch of the Sargodha police. The others were named as Arshad and Ghulam (the latter also known as Boota Gujjar).

According to the Star Welfare Organisation in Sargodha, police briefly brought all the accused except the main perpetrator to the station, where the missing woman’s family were assured that she and Hussain would be found and brought in within 15 days if the four were allowed to leave and find them, after which they would all be arrested. A Muslim religious leader was brought in and the four perpetrators swore on a Quran before being released.

On August 27 Mohammad Aslam was sitting with the Cantt station head officer (SHO) when a call came in from village Chak123 to report that a bad smell was coming from the house of Ghulam Hussain. A police search found the body of Shehnaz Bibi wrapped in quilts. The district civil hospital in Sargodha conducted an autopsy and reported that her skull had been broken with an axe; the case was changed to a murder case. Hussain’s wife Abida was also taken into custody where she retold her story, also reporting that Hussain and his friends had raped Shenaz after she taunted them about their caste. Neighbours reported hearing the screams of the woman as she was being raped.

Since then the victim’s family and the Star Welfare Organisation report that no investigation has been carried out. On the contrary, Mohammad Aslam has been asked for bribes by five successive station head officers at Cantt over the year. In one incident the accused men allegedly offered two million rupees to Aslam in front of SHO Amir Shah, but when he refused to settle they announced that it would instead be used as payment for the police to not pursue the case. Aslam believes about 1.5 million rupees have changed hands so far between the police and the suspects.

The family of the murdered woman are now facing regular threats to deter them from following through with the case, particularly from Zia Ulhassan and Arif, the accused police officers. One repeated threat is that the five Aslam daughters will suffer the same fate as their mother. Reports to the station and requests for protection have not been acted on.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Miss Shehnaz Bibi had been hired to arrange a marriage for Ghulam Hussain, and had matched him with Abida. Shortly after the marriage Abida’s parents lost contact with her and Shehnaz was asked to help resolve the dispute. Hussain was allegedly demanding his money back and the victim was last seen on her way to Abida’s parents to meet with them and Hussain.

SUGGESTED ACTION
Please write letters to the authorities asking them to intervene immediately into this case by arranging protection for the family of Shehnaz Bibi and taking the accused named in FIR 271/08 Cantt into custody for a thorough investigation. Please also urge to the authorities to probe into the allegations of bribery and corruption taking place at Cantt station, with legal measures taken against those proven guilty of graft and negligence in this case.

The AHRC has written a seperate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women regarding this case.

To support this appeal please click here

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Police officers participate in the rape and murder of a woman and no investigation is carried out

Names of the victims:
1. Mrs. Shehnaz Bibi, 42, wife of Mohammad Aslam.
2. Mr. Mohammad Aslam son of Allah Ditta, Mughal caste.
Both resident of 4/38 Mohalla Rehmanpura number 4,
Bajwa colony, Sargodha, Punjab province.

Names of the perpetrators:
1. Ghulam Hussain Gujjar, son of Kamal Hussain, main perpetrator,
2. Zia Ulhassan son of Mohammad Sardar Gujjar, a Punjab Elite Force head constable
3. Arif son of Tufail Gujjar, officer at the licensing branch of the Sargodha police
4. Arshad son of Ali Mohammad Gujjar
5. Ghulam alias Boota Gujjar son of Wali Mohammad Gujjar, supervisor at a stone crushing factory.
All resident of Chak number 123, Junubi Sargodha, Sargodha district, Punjab province.
6. Various district police officers and station house officers of Cantt police station, Sargodha, Punjab province, including one Amir Shah.

Date of Incident: Since August 24, 2008
Place of incident: Chak number 123, Sargodha district

I am writing to call for an immediate investigation into the rape and murder of a woman last year by a group of men, including two police officers, and into allegations of bribery and negligence against officers at Cantt Police Station, Sargodha.

Station heads have reportedly requested bribes from the victim’s family and accepted large sums from the accused, while neglecting to investigate the case. The family has reported a recent escalation in threats pressuring them to withdraw their case, one being that the victim’s daughters will soon suffer her fate: rape and murder. The family have asked for protection but have received none. I am gravely concerned for their safety, and for the welfare of those living under the jurisdiction of Cantt police station, where there appears to be gross corruption and scant regard for the rule of law.

According to the information I have received Mr. Muhammad Aslam lodged FIR 271/08 at Cantt Police Station in Sargodha, reporting his wife’s abduction by Ghulam Hussain Gujjar with the help of Elite Force head constable Zia Ulhassan and Mohammad Sardar Gujjar, an officer at the licensing branch of the Sargodha police, and Arshad and Ghulam.

According to the Star Welfare Organisation in Sargodha, police briefly brought all the accused except the main perpetrator to the station, and then quickly released them.

On August 27 police found the body of Shehnaz Bibi in village Chak123 at the house of Ghulam Hussain, and the district civil hospital reported that her skull had been broken with an axe. Hussain’s wife Abida reported that Hussain and his friends had raped Shenaz before murdering her. Neighbours reported hearing the woman’s screams.

Since then the victim’s family and the Star Welfare Organisation report that no investigation has been carried out. On the contrary, Mohammad Aslam has been asked for bribes by five successive station head officers at Cantt over the year. In one incident the accused allegedly offered two million rupees to Aslam in front of SHO Amir Shah, but when Aslam refused to settle they announced that it would instead be used as payment for the police to not pursue the case. Aslam believes about 1.5 million rupees have changed hands so far between the police and the suspects.

I am writing to voice my disbelief at the sheer extent of the corruption and the impunity being demonstrated by law enforcers in Cantt, where it appears that rape and murder cases do not receive attention if large enough bribes are paid. That no higher figure of authority has intervened and that the officers involved have been allowed to keep their jobs and threaten the family of the dead woman, says volumes about the quality of the policing here, and the frailty of the rule of law in this area. There is a clear and pressing need for high level intervention.

I therefore demand that the accused named in FIR 271/08 Cantt be taken into custody immediately for a thorough investigation, as warranted by the law. Protection must be arranged for the family of Shehnaz Bibi. I also expect the allegations of bribery and corruption taking place at Cantt station to be seriously investigated, with legal measures taken against those proven guilty of graft and negligence.

Yours sincerely

————

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1.Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111

2. Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com or interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

3. Mr. Mian Shahbaz Sharif
Chief Minister of Punjab
H-180 Model Town
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 5881383

4. Minister of Law
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk

5. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 7324489
E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

6. Mr. Salman Taseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN

7. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission
ua@ahrc.asia

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