A Christian sanitary worker in Khanewal is allegedly being pressurised by Muslim officials to drop sexual assault charges against her supervisor and were using various tactics such as withholding of her salary to make her submit to their demand, sources said.
Riaz Aasi, the head of Alpha Human Rights Care Organisation, told Kross Konnection that 50-year-old Salima Rani Bibi, who is employed in the sanitation branch of the Khanewal Municipal Committee, was sexually assaulted by her Muslim supervisor Ajmal Khan in front of the other employees on July 22.
“Khan allegedly tried to force Rani into a sexual relationship, and upon her refusal, withheld her pay and routinely sexually harassed, and directed lewd remarks at her in front of the other employees. On July 22, he sexually assaulted her, tearing her clothes in the process,” said Aasi.
Within the next few days, Salima Rani filed a complaint with the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) Khanewal, Station House Officer (SHO) Khanewal, Deputy Commissioner (DC) Khanewal, and District Police Officer (DPO) Khanewal but to no avail, he added.
According to Aasi, the hapless woman has been forced to go into hiding along with her six daughters, four of whom are minors, due to mounting pressure on her to withdraw the harassment case.
Aasi said that Ajmal Khan belongs to an influential family of Khanewal, which shares powerful connections with Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. He added that the chairman of the Khanewal Municipal Committee, Janwal Masood Majeed Khan also belongs to the same influential family. The two men, along with Qazi Farhan, the in-charge of the sanitation branch, are reportedly using their political clout to harass the victim, he said.
Sources said that when some local journalists approached Ajmal Khan for his version on the accusations against him, he character-assassinated Salima Rani and his hate-filled narrative was replete with slurs against the Christian community.
Riaz Aasi, the activist, said that even though the incident happened in broad daylight on a public street, and with several witnesses who are willing to come forward, there has been no action.
He claimed that force has been repeatedly used to silence Salima Rani, going as far as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member Wazir Khan Niazi beating up a witness to silence him.
The first hearing was scheduled for August 6, but has been delayed to September 3.
Determined to get justice, he said: “We are waiting to see how the hearing goes. We are ready to organise a district and provincial-level protest if silenced. We are not afraid to go as far as a hunger strike.”