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LAHORE: Expanding the scope of its investigation, the Punjab police late on Saturday night conducted raids in three districts of the province including Faisalabad, Kasur and Sheikhupura and picked up 26 persons for their alleged involvement in harassing and assaulting a female TikToker and her companions at Minar-e-Pakistan on Independence Day.

Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghani said the police operations are underway to arrest the accused involved in the assault on the woman in Greater Iqbal Park and the accused are being traced in other districts while expanding the scope of police investigation.

He said the police teams are working day and night on this particular case to trace the accused through geo-fencing, NADRA records, CCTV footage and other evidences and modern technology and arrests of the accused from different districts are being carried out.

According to the IG, police have so far interrogated 407 suspects in connection with the tragic incident, of whom 92 were arrested while the remaining suspects have been released. Of the arrested accused, 40 have been sent to jail for identification parade while another 30 will be sent today (Sunday), he said and requested the journalists not to spread disinformation among the masses.

About the second abuse case of a woman in Chingchi rickshaw, the IG assured that the media will be kept informed of the progress made in the case and once again requested the media not to spread any news or information without confirmation. However, Ghani appealed to the people to immediately inform police if they have any information about the incident.

He said that police will spare no effort in arresting all the accused involved in these tragic incidents and they will be sentenced by the court. He added that best possible steps are being taken to ensure the safety of women and strict legal action would be taken against the perpetrators of harassment, violence and abuse against women in all cases.

Meanwhile, a judicial magistrate in the provincial capital sent 30 more suspects to jail for their identification parade in TikToker Ayesha Akram, better known on social media as Ayesha Baig, case.

The city police had arrested 36 other suspects in the case on Saturday. But in today's proceedings, the police officials produced only 30 suspects before the court under strict security arrangements. The suspects were brought to the district courts in a prison van with their faces covered.

The investigation officer (IO) requested the court to grant police the permission to conduct the identification parade of the suspects to identify the culprits involved in the incident. The IO told the magistrate that the complainant would try to identify the suspects in the jail. The magistrate allowed police to shift the suspects to the judicial lockup for 14 days and directed the jail authorities to make special arrangements for the identification parade.

On Saturday, a judicial magistrate had sent another 40 suspects in the case to jail for their identification parade. Some of the suspects alleged before the court during the hearing that the TikToker had herself invited them to Minar-e-Pakistan to make videos. They asked the court to order the police to also arrest the TikToker and her team members to reveal the facts of the incident. The parents of some of the suspects also gathered outside the court and claimed that their sons had been wrongly arrested by the police.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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