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State to pursue Islamabad couple harassment case, says Maleeka Bokhari

State to pursue Islamabad couple harassment case, says Maleeka Bokhari

Parliamentary Secretary for Law Maleeka Bokhari on Wednesday said the state would pursue the Islamabad couple harassment case "irrespective of recent developments relating to victim's testimony".

"Irrefutable video and forensic evidence on record; anyone harassing and stripping a woman must face full force of the law," she tweeted.

Bokari's statement comes a day after the female victim in the case retracted her statement against the accused and told a trial court the she did not want to pursue the case, which had surfaced when a video of four persons holding a couple at gunpoint, forcing them to strip and then beating them up had gone viral on social media in July last year.

"We will make all-out efforts to take the culprits in the case to task, and have undeniable and solid evidence that will be presented before the court at the next hearing," Bokhari reiterated in a statement issued after a high-level meeting of the Ministry of Law and Justice.

"Taking this case to its logical conclusion is the responsibility of the government and police," she added.

"The video of Usman Mirza (primary accused) has been verified by the Pakistan Science Foundation, and we have photogrammetry (pertaining to the technique for making measurements through photographs) evidence, which will be presented to the court at the next hearing."

According to the statement, the meeting was called on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan and chaired by Law Minister Farogh Naseem.

The Islamabad couple harassment case was discussed in detail in the meeting attended by Bokhari, Islamabad inspector general of police, operations deputy inspector general of police and investigation senior superintendent of police, the statement said.

It quoted Bokhari as saying that the authorities would try their best to ensure the delivery of justice to the victims, who would also be provided "comprehensive security".

Besides Mirza, six others were indicted in the case, namely Hafiz Ataur Rehman, Adaras Qayyum Butt, Rehan, Umar Bilal Marwat, Mohib Bangash and Farhan Shaheen.

The suspects were initially booked under sections 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 354A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her of her clothes), 506 (ii) (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Later, sections pertaining to rape, sexual abuse, extortion, and wrongful confinement were also included in the first information report.

Bokhari further said in the statement that Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed that the state should pursue cases of violence and harassment against women and children.

"The state is standing with the affected women and children", and those guilty of abusing women and children could not escape the grip of law in any case, she added.

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