Police have arrested 12 suspected people over the alleged gang-rape of a woman on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway in Pakistan's Punjab region, media reports said.
The incident has triggered massive condemnation from different sections of Pakistani society.
Confirming the arrest of 12 people, Punjab government spokesperson Mussarat Cheema tweeted: "Punjab Police and allied departments are working in close coordination to capture those involved in Painful motorway incident. So far 12 suspects have been arrested and search is going on."
Two "robbers" allegedly raped the woman at gunpoint in Gujjarpura area on Wednesday while she was waiting for help on the motorway after her car developed a fault, reports Dawn News.
The incident triggered mass condemnation with PM Imran Khan saying in a statement as quoted by Dawn News: "The protection of women is the government's foremost priority and responsibility. Such brutality and savagery cannot be allowed in any civilised society. Such incidents are against our social values and an ugly stain on our society."
Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said her ministry's regional office had "immediately asked for an action report from the police".
"On the horrific Lahore Motorway entry point gang rape case, MOHR regional office immed asked for action report from police. FIR copy and progress report is with us at MOHR. I have removed the same from post to avoid sharing details of the victim [sic.]," the Minister tweeted.
PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif described the incident as 'horrible'.
"We as a society are failing our women & children. For starters, at least stand with the victim and acknowledge the real problem. Yet another horrible incident calls for collective & multi-pronged action... NOT a knee-jerk response!" he tweeted.
Police official triggers controversy:
Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Umer Sheikh has triggered a controversy when he pontificated that the victim had failed to take due precautions before setting off for her journey.
According to the Lahore police chief’s logic, the woman could have avoided being at the wrong place at the wrong time, reports Dawn News.
He said she should have taken the more populated GT Road to Gujranwala instead of going via motorway, and that she ought to have checked how much fuel her car had before setting off.
Meanwhile, PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb on Friday demanded his removal for his comment.
Criticising the officer for the remark, Mazari tweeted: "For an officer to effectively blame a woman for being gang raped by saying she should have taken the GT Road or question as to why she went out in the night with her children is unacceptable & have taken up this issue. Nothing can ever rationalise the crime of rape. That's it."
BDST: 1721 HRS, SEP 14, 2020