The prime suspect in the heinous gangrape incident of the Lahore motorway is now under custody after more than a month on the run. A cat and mouse hunt between him and the Punjab Police came to an end after he was finally nabbed.
This is a welcome step but is not a moment to rejoice as we have a long way to go. The law must take its course and justice must be served. The culprits must be given exemplary punishment. The onus is now on the law enforcement agencies and the judiciary on how the case reaches its logical conclusion.
It is the responsibility of the police to make our streets safer not just for women but for all citizens. Thus, it was unusual that the chief minister announced a reward for the policemen who arrested the suspect. The Lahore High Court had expressed its displeasure stating that people should not be rewarded merely for doing their jobs. There has been no decline in the number of sexual assault cases and minor girls and elderly women are the victims of such incidents regularly.
The motorway incident has already exposed the society that we live in. We witnessed the misogynist and hypocritical mindset prevalent in which a woman is blamed for the incident. The remarks and unapologetic behaviour of the CCPO Lahore is an example. It also showed how vulnerable women could be and how predator men take advantage of them in such circumstances. It will be a long time before we can see any drastic change in the way our society treats women.
The case also highlights the extent of state censorship as the media was barred from even coverage of the incident just because it would give a bad impression. The ban was only revoked after the suspect was apprehended but it shows how the media can be suppressed by court injunctions. It is often presumed that the media can the outcome of a case and should be stopped from coverage.
As the suspect is now behind, it is necessary to work on the much needed police reforms. This has been the biggest failure of the government and must be rectified. It is imperative that we built a society where the police protect us and we can lives and move around safely.