LAHORE: Police arrested on Friday a former federal minister belonging to the PML-Q, Liaquat Abbas Bhatti, shortly after recovering from his Johar Town residence a 14-year-old housemaid allegedly tortured and chained along with her younger sister and brother.
Police raided the place after receiving a tip about the illegal confinement of Shahida, her sister Zubaida and seven-year-old brother Irfan.
Shahida was immediately sent to the Jinnah Hospital for medical examination as she had swollen legs and arms and torture marks suffered during ‘months-long’ detention in chains.
A doctor said she was suffering multiple health conditions, including anaemia, because of remaining in such a condition. Zubaida had a severe wrist fracture.
The doctors suggested hat the three siblings be admitted to the hospital.
Shahida told Dawn in the hospital that she had been confined by Mr Bhatti because of a Rs400,000 loan her father had taken from him.
She alleged that Mr Bhatti had reduced her salary, as well as those of there siblings after their father obtained the loan.
Liaquat’s driver Wajid and two other employees tortured me when I refused to work at the new salary.
However, the children’s father Ashiq Ali, of Kot Noor Shah, Sheikhupura, said he had not barrowed money from the landlord, alleging that his children had been illegally confined by Mr Bhatti for bonded labour.
He came to Lahore when Johar Town police informed him about the recovery of his children. Police denied media access to the arrested former MNA due to legal complications.
Saddar Division SP (Operations) Jehanzeb quoted Liaquat Bhatti as claiming that he had not detained the children for forced labour.
“Actually my driver is responsible for the illegal confinement of the children. He kept them in the servant quarter over some issues,” he was reported to have said.
The official said police had not recorded any allegation about the loan during investigation.
He said Shahida was in chains when the children were recovered and they had torture marks on their bodies.
Police registered a case against Liaquat Bhatti and his driver Wajid under sections 354, 342 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code.