Thursday Sep 24, 2020
KARACHI: A senior police officer of the metropolis' South zone has raised doubts over the young survivor of the Clifton sexual assault incident, saying it did "not look like rape and kidnapping but it appears to be some other issue".
Speaking to The News, the deputy inspector-general (DIG) for South Zone police, Javed Akbar Riaz, said: "Investigators did not find any evidence or witness to suggest that the woman offered resistance during the entire episode."
However, until the investigation was completed, "nothing concrete could be established", he added, with the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage obtained by police seemingly showing her calmly walking away from the area.
Investigators obtained footage from multiple CCTV cameras, one of which was shown to The News wherein the 22-year-old woman was not thrown out of a black Toyota Vigo but was seen stepping out of the vehicle with a shopping bag.
Earlier reports of the Clifton incident indicated that three men in a black Toyota Vigo had abducted the 22-year-old survivor around 9:30pm as she waited for a bus to go home in Karachi's posh Clifton neighbourhood. Two of them repeatedly gang-raped her while a third facilitated the abuse.
The prior reports also mentioned that the young woman was found Tuesday morning in an unconscious state. But police have hinted ruling out the abduction and gang-rape given the new evidence that "refutes force and coercion factor and appears to be something else".
When questioned by authorities, a security guard at the apartment where the survivor was reportedly taken Monday night told police he could not recall witnessing a young woman resisting at any point of time.
Police investigators said the call detail records (CDR) of the mobile phones owned by the woman and the suspects suggested they were in contact with each other for a short period of time. Riaz said it showed "their brief call history” but added that the "suspects will be arrested soon”.
They also cited “initial medical examination” suggesting that there was no sign of torture or injury on the survivor's body.
It is interesting to note that initial reports from the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) — where the woman was shifted after the case was filed — had confirmed the assault. A DNA test of woman was carried out but police said neither she nor her family wished to be named.
Authorities also raided an apartment on the third floor of a residential apartment at Khayaban-e-Nishat in Karachi's upscale Defence Housing Authority (DHA) locality after the woman recorded her statement and police identified the suspects but unfortunately returned empty-handed.
A raid carried out at the houses of the three suspects’ relatives remained futile.
Police claimed having established the identities of the alleged rapists, one of whom hails to Jacobabad and happens to be the son of a late parliamentarian, whom they refused to identify publicly.
However, they added that the woman was dropped back at around 11:30pm the same night and not found in an unconscious state the following morning. A first information report (FIR) was registered at the Boat Basin police station.
A senior police source also warned against rushing to a hasty conclusion.
A day prior, a senior police officer, while quoting the victim's statement, had said one of the three men allegedly involved in the kidnapping and gang-rape of the 22-year-old had given her an "influential" person's phone number to contact if she needed a job.
The alleged rapist, while dropping her back, also offered to hire her for Rs30,000 if she needed employment, the senior cop had explained.
On Wednesday, authorities had claimed an investigation into the mobile number in question had been completed. The contact, they had added, was of "an influential person" but it was not used at the crime scene.
The day-to-day activities of the said influential person were also checked but no evidence was found of the man's involvement in the incident, they had added, noting that the data of his children was also being vetted.
Police came to know about the incident after the woman's sister narrated the ordeal to Helpline 15 on Tuesday afternoon.
The woman had told police that she was taken to a flat after being abducted from Clifton and was subjected to sexual violence, following which the suspects had left her at the same spot from where they kidnapped her.
"The men in a black Vigo took me to the third floor of a building and raped me after picking me from near the Abdullah Shah Ghazi's shrine," a senior police officer said quoting the survivor. "They then dropped me outside the mall in Clifton."
"The woman has identified influential suspects [...] They will be caught soon," police had said.
DIG Riaz had said police were "working on the victim’s version" and "deployed our resources to arrest the suspects and to pursue the investigation on merit”.
Women officers were attached to the case due to its sensitivity, he had added, while the assistant superintendent of police (ASP) at the Clifton station, Zahida Perveen, said Karachi's authorities were "also trying to obtain the CCTV footage from both the spots — from where she was picked and dropped".