Balkh’s Alam Khel elders deny girl gang-raped
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Residents of Alam Khel village in northern Balkh province on Thursday said no gang-rape of a girl had taken place in their village as was reported in the media.
A week back, some media outlets reported that an 18-year-old girl was gang-raped on April 15 in Alam Khel village by gunmen loyal a local influential figure.
The reports quoted the girl’s father, Abdul Jabbar, as claiming that her daughter had been sexually assaulted by gunmen loyal to Juma Khan Hamdard, a former governor of three provinces.
But yesterday dozens of tribal elders from Alam Khel village visited the Balkh provincial council’s office and strongly rejected the incident. They insisted no such incident had taken place in the village.
The elders included two brothers of Abdul Jabbar and they also strongly denied their niece had been raped.
One of the two brothers, Mohammad Din, told the provincial council members that he lived in the same home with his brother Abdul Jabbar.
The 55-year-old said: “No one has raped my niece. I was unaware and people told me that televisions are airing the news of my niece rape.”
Abdul Wakil, one of the elders from Alam Khel village, told Pajhwok Afghan News on the sidelines of their meeting with the provincial council members that there were 200 families living in the village and no one had the knowledge of the incident.
Wakil called Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor as an unsuccessful politician for blaming the incident on Juma Khan Hamdard on TV screen.
He said the residents of Alam Khel were victim of political differences in Balkh. He said they visited the provincial council instead of the governor’s house because the latter had accused them of prostitution.
But the Balk governor’s spokesman, Munir Farhad, said the rape incident was not a political plot, but a father had himself claimed his daughter had been raped by gunmen loyal to Juma Khan Hamdard.
About the claims of Alam Khel elders, he said: “Now it is the job of judicial organs to investigate every aspect of the incident and bring to light the truth.”
Fawzia Hamidi, Chief of the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Unit at the Attorney General's Office in Mazar-i-Sharif, told Pajhwok Afghan News that seven days ago, parents and their daughter from Alam Khel village came to her office and claimed the girl had been raped by men linked to Juma Khan Hamdard.
On the basis of their claim, she said she sent an official letter to the provincial police headquarters to arrest the culprits named by the family as Mohammad, Jabbar, Jamil and Qadir, but the police were yet to arrest them.
But Juma Khan Hamdard’s son Gul Rahman Hamdard said the rape drama was a political plot hatched by Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor against his father.
He said if the incident had any reality, someone in the village would have been aware of it. “Voices are being raised against the governor over the past few months and the governor thinks my father is behind it, that’s why he is trying to defame us.”
Hamdard said it was their demand that the judicial organs thoroughly investigate the incident.
The elders from Alam Khel who visited the provincial council office also demanded investigation into the allegation.
One of them, Haji Mohammad Rassoul, said he hoped the provincial council would put pressure on the judicial organs to intensify their efforts at probing the incident.
He said respected families lived in Alam Khel and they could not stay silent about the incident and those who had hatched the plot should be prosecuted.
Provincial council member Syed Abdullah Masroor also believed the rape claim was a political plot. “What surprised us is that the uncle of the girl who lives together with the family is not aware of the incident. And if the incident took place two months ago, why it is shared with the media now?.”
The public representative said the rape drama seemed to be a political and urged its hatchers not to make the people of Balkh scapegoat of their political goals.
But provincial council chief Dr. Mohammad Afzal Hadid said the incident could neither be confirmed nor denied.
He said he came to know about the incident through media and had no further information and no one from Alam Khel had contacted him in this regard.
Hadid said they would appoint and send a delegation to Alam Khel for investigation. He said the provincial council had responsibility to standby the truth.
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