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Three officials suspended for concealing gang rape

GUJRAT: The Punjab government on Monday suspended from service three senior-most officers of the Gujrat health department, including Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Altaf Hussain, for not informing the higher authorities about the gang rape of two lady health workers (LHWs) during a robbery at the Bheelowal Basic Health Unit near Tanda.

Punjab Secretary Health Ali Jan Khan issued the suspension orders of Gujrat CEO (Health) Dr Altaf, District Officer (Health) Dr Muhammad Ali Mufti and Deputy District Officer (Health) Dr Yousaf Dar with immediate effect.

On the direction of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Minister for Primary and Secondary Health Khawaja Imran Nazir along with the health secretary visited the BHU to probe the incident.

The inquiry team reached the BHU and recorded the statements of the gang rape survivors and other staff and found that the incident had taken place on the night between Dec 29 and 30 but the district health officials did not inform the authorities. And when they did intimate the department after two weeks, they just mentioned robbery.

The minister took a serious notice of concealing of the facts by the officials and suspended the three seniors.

An official source privy to the inquiry team told Dawn the team had inquired about the lapse at the official end, the arrest of the suspects and the ways to compensate the rape survivors. It recorded the statement of District Police Officer Sohail Zafar Chatha also.

He said the deputy commissioner also did not know about the incident. He learnt it from one of his seniors in the Gujranwala commissioner’s office and visited the BHU on Jan 12.

Sources said since the Bheelowal BHU was in the category of those units which remained open 24 hours, senior officials of the district health department had asked its staff not to leak the incident for the sake of their own security and assured them that the centre would either be removed from the 24/7 category or they could be transferred to a BHU which was not in that category.

Following the suspension of the CEO and DO of health department, Dr Abid Ghauri, the medical superintendent of Shabbir Sharif Hospital, Kunjah, has been given the acting charge of CEO and Dr Zahid Tanveer has been posted as acting DO.

Meanwhile, the Gujrat police buried, on a temporary basis, one of the suspects, identified as Arshad Lahoria of Sargodha district, as nobody approached the police to claim his body.

Four of the gang-rape suspects were killed by the alleged firing of their own accomplices during a shoot-out with Kunjah police near Kot Ghulam on Sunday.

A source in police said the suspects were detected through the data of mobile phones and they were arrested from the various parts of Punjab. Three of the four suspects belonged to the villages located in the Tanda police precincts and one of them was from the Bheelowal village.

The Kunjah police also lodged a case of encounter against the four deceased and their unidentified accomplices.

courtesy : dawn news

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