A teenage victim of gangrape underwent some harrowing time in a Karachi courtroom Wednesday. Insensitive questioning by the defence counsel provoked furious objections from the prosecution, and the case was adjourned.
The court was conducting the trial of four men - Shahban Sheikh, Sheikh Ehsan, Roshan Aleem and Kaleemullah - who were allegedly involved in the gang-rape of Kainat Soomro, on January 10, 2007 in Mehar Town of District Dadu.
When the hearing began before Additional District and Sessions Judge Nizar Ali Khawaja on Wednesday, Special Public Prosecutor Abdul Maroof objected to the presence of a number of people in the courtroom and requested the court to order all irrelevant persons to leave the courtroom.
However, the defence counsel objected to the prosecution plea and argued that the law did not contain any provision which barred any citizen from witnessing the hearing of a case in an open court.
The judge overruled the special public prosecutor's objection and asked the defence counsel to proceed with the cross-examination of the gang-rape victim.
All the four accused were present in the courtroom.
When the defence counsel asked the victim girl to present a graphic account of the gang-rape, the special public prosecutor and some other lawyers assisting him leapt to their feet and objected to the questions.
An exchange of hot words ensued. The judge intervened, only to berate both sides "for hindering the hearing of the case. "
He warned them he he would have no option but to send the case back to the Sindh High Court if they persisted with their squabbles.
However, the defence and prosecution counsel maintained that they had complete faith in the court and pledged to extend full cooperation.
Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned to April 7 when the defence would resume the cross-examination of the victim girl, Ishaq Tanoli reported for Dawn..
This is one of the two high-profile gangrape cases from the Sindh province.
While Kainat Soomro, 13, was gang-raped in early January in the village Mehar, Dadu by three people after she was drugged, Nasima, 16, was kidnapped from her home and later gang-raped in the village Mirpur Mathelo.
Subsequently Ghulam Nabi Soomro, father of Kainat, and Hamza Albano, father of Nasima, move the state High Court for transfer of the cases from interior Sindh to Session Court, Karachi.
While powerful men of the region started threatening the victims and their family of dire consequences, the police too were very uncooperative and even joined the former in dropping dark hints of what could be in store for the families if they didn't stop "unnecessarily harassing the big guns."
Eventually the case was transferred to Karachi. But the victims' travails do not seem to be over. Such is the pathetic situation of women in a Pakistan, increasingly under the influence of the mullahs.