Friday, February 6, 2009

8,445 women victimised in country last year: report

KARACHI: In the past nine years, violence against women has seen an increase with more and more Pakistani women being victimised, revealed Lawyers for Human Rights & Legal Aid (LHRHA) President Advocate Zia Awan.

Addressing a press conference at the LHRHA run Madadgar Helpline Trust office, Awan said that data compiled since 2000 showed a sharp increase in the incidents of crime against women in Pakistan with 8,445 reported cases of female victimisation in 2008. According to Madadgar data, 67,706 women abuse cases have been registered between the years 2000 and 2008.

Karachi turned out to be a major hub of anti-women activities with 13,613 cases being registered that included murder, rape, torture, kidnap, karo kari, Hudood, trafficking, Vani Sawara as well as forced marriages between the years 2000 and 2008.

Talking about the arrest of the rapist gang from Clifton, Awan said, “So far thirty six victims have come forward to us against this gang of rapists who were busted by the police recently,” while imploring other victims to come forward.

He said that the number of reported cases is hardly
10 percent of the actual incidents that take place while inviting academics to come forward and investigate whether the numbers had increased because of incidents or whether the media was able to report more due to the freedom and exposure.

Awan asked the United Nations to take notice of the increase in the instances of violence against women saying that though Pakistan is a signatory of CEDAW, a lot has been left in terms of protecting women and safeguarding their rights.

“A major surgery needs to performed in all institutions, be it the judiciary, police and the administration so that the life and right of people especially women in the society can be protected,” said LHRHA president Awan.

Talking about ways to curb crimes against women, Awan said that each province should have a complaint cell to assist victims, as the process of registering an FIR is a cumbersome process. He also said that women police officers should be given the task to deal with cases pertaining to women as well as suggesting the appointment of women ombudsmen.

He also said that the database at Madadgar maintained not only the list of victims but also the abusers and perpetrators of heinous crimes so that they could be identified. Addressing a press conference, Madadgar Helpline Head Tahmeena Naseem Shah said “There is a marked increase in women abuse and the numbers in NWFP and Balochistan are way higher than the numbers in Sindh and Punjab but due to the fear of reporting these incidents, the figures remain low.” Tahmeena also added that Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad and Sialkot proved to be violent cities for women, making Punjab the worst in terms of protecting the rights of women with Sindh following behind closely.

Ali Mohammed Hajyano’s statement startles investigators

White Corolla car case seems to have been worse than feared

The statements of Ali Mohammed Hajyano, accused in 32 FIRs of various crimes including murder, dacoity, burglary and sexual abuse, have left police officials startled over the viciousness of his crimes.

Policemen investigating what is known as the White Corolla car case, because this was the automobile that was used in most of the crimes, are startled by the manner and brazenness with which these crimes were committed allegedly by Hajyano, officials said.

Hajyano not only robbed several families and couples but in many instances abused the women present at the scene of the crime.

Investigators probing Mohammed Ali Hajyano said that there were about a total of 32 FIRs registered against the accused persons at various police stations of Clifton Town. Twelve cases were registered against them after their arrest.

Murder case: They have also been arrested in a murder case committed in the jurisdiction of the Boat Basin police station. Hajyano has been identified in more than 10 cases so far. In many other cases, victims are afraid to come forward owing to the brutality of the crimes.

In a statement given to investigators, Hajyano said that he was a resident of Defense, was born in Karachi and had studied till Intermediate. He is married and his wife is a doctor, and he has one son.

Moreover, he further disclosed that about two years before he had had an affair with a woman to whom he claimed he was an army officer. He was arrested by the Darakhshan police at the time while wearing an army uniform but was later bailed out. Following this incident, Hajyano went to Saudi Arabia but returned within a year. On his return, he decided to turn to robberies and crime. He met with a man called Umair Khan, a mechanic by profession.

For their crimes, they selected a white Corolla car which Umair hired from a shop in Defense. According to the statement, in March 2008, the men were roaming in Defense and hijacked a couple in a Baleno car and at gunpoint robbed cash and jewelry and assaulted the man and threatened him.

After three days, Hajyano and his accomplice again rented a Corolla and this time robbed a girl along with her mother but did not assault them. In this crime, they adopted the idea of wearing wigs and hats to protect their identity. This disguise continued.

Soon after, however, the crimes turned vicious when the duo trapped a couple outside a foreign fast food chain in Defense and robbed them. This time, Hajyano sexually abused the man’s wife, according to the statement that he gave investigators.

Moreover, using the same white car, they hijacked two girls along with their car in Phase 2, DHA and snatched their purses and jewellery and fled.

Two days later he again used his white Corolla, changed its original number plate, and robbed three cars with couples and looted cash and jewellery.

In the third incident, they robbed a young woman who was driving alone in her car at Khayaban-e-Ittehad. The two men forced their way into the girl’s car, looted cash and jewellery and then Hajyano sexually abused her, according to the statement.

Two days after this offence, they went to the Sea View area and forced a woman driving a Cultus car to stop and kidnapped her. They then sexually abused this woman, investigators quoted Hajyano as saying.

Robbery spree: After a few days, he, along with Umair, went to Defense after changing the car’s number plate again. They then moved towards the Marina Club. Here they saw a couple sitting in a car. They snatched the couple’s purses, jewellery and cellphones. On the same day, they also robbed another couple at Sea View and also snatched their laptop computer and a gold chain.

On the same day, in the Sea View area they stopped a car in which three women were sitting and looted gold bangles and chains and fled. Later that night, they had robbed a couple with children sitting in their jeep behind the Misri Shah Shrine in Defence.

Three days after this offence, the duo again went to Sea View, where they saw a couple sitting inside a car. In this instance, they forced the man into the Corolla at gunpoint and then proceeded to abuse the woman. Not content with this act, they then committed another robbery soon after, investigators said.

Hajyano’s detailed statements make chilling reading. A couple of days after their night of repeated crimes, they went to Defense and while driving saw a couple along with their children in a car. The two criminals stopped the car and looted the family.

On the same night, a short distance from the place, they robbed two aged women sitting in their car. They then saw two men and a girl in a Mercedes car, and robbed them too.

In his detailed statement, Hajyano said that two days later, he along with Umair went to Defense after changing the number plate of the car and stopped a car in DHA, Phase-VII and robbed a couple and fled.

On the same night, they went to Phase-II and looted two girls returning from their tuition center and also snatched two laptop computers before fleeing. On the next day, in the same area, he stopped a car in which a girl was sitting and sexually abused her.

Two days later, in Darakhshan area, Hajyano signaled a car to stop. When the driver did not comply, Hajyano shot at the car. He then robbed the occupants. Nearby he saw a white Corolla car in which a woman was sitting. Hajyano forcibly entered the car and assaulted the woman.

Murder of Eunuch: In September 2008, the duo shot a eunuch. Mistaking him for a girl, they approached and pointed a pistol at him. On seeing the pistol, the eunuch fled but Hajyano opened fire, which led to the eunuch’s death.

In a statement given to investigators, Hajyano said that in every sexual abuse case, he committed the offence and his accomplice, Umair, had no interest. Umair’s duty was to change the number plate of the car. He would do this by removing the number plates of cars in parking lots and affixing them to his car.

The robbed jewellery was sold by Hajyano when he went to Sarafa Bazaar, Saddar, in a Mercedes car.

Hajyano’s luck finally ran out, however, when he was robbing a girl in front of the Nisar Shaheed Park, when a police mobile van caught him after an encounter.

Women rights groups have called for exemplary punishment for Hajyano while his father contends that Hajyano is innocent and is being tortured by the police.

Cantt Station on candid camera

By Asadullah

The Pakistan Railways has introduced a much-needed security feature to the Karachi Cantonment Railway Station, and the close circuit television (CCTV) network has been made functional with the proper installation of 26 cameras.

The Karachi Cantonment Railway Station, which also enjoys heritage status, has been equipped with a CCTV network after having a control room established within the police help centre at the station. The Railway Police have been tasked with monitoring the eight platforms of the station, hosting arrival and departure of 48 trains every 24 hours.

“The CCTV franchise operation has been under way since January 17 under railway police supervision,” a senior railway police officer told The News. “We are now monitoring the station with 26 cameras, including a high-speed dome camera installed in the parking lot of the station.”

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Railway Minister, had told the media that CCTV cameras would be installed at the Karachi, Rohri and Lahore railway stations in the first phase.

Pakistan Railway authorities, however, took time to come up with an authentic answer to the CCTV project when they finalised the bids for installing cameras. They managed to fit cameras at different points, but these remained idle due to the paucity of trained hands in the control room.

Sources said that twelve police constables and six female constables have undergone a six-month training period to work in the CCTV control room in eight-hour shifts round the clock. “We have enough memory for 25 days of video footage,” explained a police officer. “The 26th day will automatically erase the first day’s memory and record over it.”

Sources said that the installation of CCTV cameras in Karachi, Lahore and Rohri at an accumulative cost of Rs10.5 million is part of a greater security and surveillance project, which will also cover railway workshops, to have a check on theft and employees’ presence. Walk-through security gates have already been installed at the Karachi Cantonment Railway Station.

Sources informed The News that the Pakistan Railway headquarters in Lahore have finalised the CCTV Network at three railway stations, including Karachi Cantonment, in the first phase of the security measures to be taken at railway stations and trains across the country. Lahore-based Champions Traders has installed the cameras at Karachi, too.

“The high-speed dome camera installed at the parking lot of Karachi Cantonment Railway Station is unique amongst the cameras installed to cover eight platforms,” observed a police officer. “This particular camera can be rotated as per your requirement, enabling you to keep a watchful eye on the huge open space around the parking area.”

According to Baqar Gilani, the Station House Officer of the Karachi Cantonment Railway Police Station, the establishment of CCTV control room under the railway police’s supervision is indeed a right step toward improved policing at the century-old railway station where 90 percent of the up-country railroading originates.

Within the Cantonment Railway Police Station’s limits, the theft of railway material and property tops the incidents of crime, followed by pick pocketing and luggage-lifting.

“Another most serious crime that we deal with is poisoning of people in a bid to rob them,” said Gilani.

No official, including Muzzafar Ali Sheikh, Railway Police SP, could confirm the cost of the cameras and other necessary arrangements that have been made to finalise the CCTV network. Mir Mohammed Khaskheli, Divisional Superintendent Railway Karachi, appeared ignorant as far as the actual cost of the CCTV Network at Karachi alone was concerned.

A.Q.Khan a free man following IHC acquittal

Disgraced Pakistan scientist Dr.Abdul Qadeer Khan has been aquitted of all charges of nuclear proliferation, and has been set free after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered to lift his house arrest on Friday.

IHC chief justice Sardar Muhammad Aslam adjudged that the charges filed in the petition against Khan charging him of giving nuclear know-how to other countries (North Korea, Libya, and Iran) illegally, had not been ’substantiated’.

The Court also declared Khan as a free citizen and said that he is free to move across the country, The News reports.

However, the order said that Khan will have to inform the government about his movements in advance, and asked the authorities to provide a VVIP security cover to him.

Khan came under scrutiny following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. and the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan to oust the fundamentalist Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It emerged that al-Qaeda had made repeated efforts to obtain nuclear weapons materials to build either a radiological bomb or a crude nuclear bomb. In late October 2001, the Pakistani government arrested three Pakistani nuclear scientists, all with close ties to Khan, for their suspected connections with the Taliban.

The Bush administration continued to investigate Pakistani nuclear weapons proliferation, ratcheting up the pressure on the Pakistani government in 2001 and 2002 and focusing on Khan’s personal role. He had been under house arrest since February 2004.