Police escort men as they are brought to a local court for allegedly groping and harassing a female TikToker in a public park on the Pakistan's Independence Day, in Lahore. Image Credit: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A Lahore court has ordered the police to set free 98 suspects in the assault on TikToker’s case after the prosecution failed to produce any evidence of their involvement in the incident.

Ayesha Akram, the TikToker who was assaulted by a mob in the Greater Iqbal Park at Lahore’s national monument, Minar-e-Pakistan, on the country’s Independence Day on August 14, had a day earlier identified six persons out of the 104 arrested by police on the suspicion of their involvement in the assault.

Judicial Magistrate Sarfaraz Cheema held the hearing where 98 arrested persons were brought. The police informed the court 104 persons were arrested with the help of video clips and assistance from the National Database And Registration Authority (NADRA).

However, the court was informed that during the identification parade, the TikToker could identify only six of them. Upon this the magistrate directed the police to set free all those who were not identified by her.

According to Lahore police, the six arrested were the main characters of the unfortunate incident. They will be tried in court of law and it will be ensured that they are convicted for assaulting a helpless woman in front of hundreds of silent spectators.

The incident took place on August 14 when the local TikTok star went to the Minar-e-Pakistan for filming a video. There, a large number of visitors, mostly youth, molested and harassed her.

They tore her clothes, pushed and pinched her and subjected her to sexual harassment. The footage showed the attackers laughing at Ayesha Akram and using abusive language.

The incident when reported on local and social media shocked the nation and the police after public pressure registered the First Information Report (FIR) against 400 unidentified persons for assaulting the complainant, molesting and stripping her.

Later, the police conducted raids across the province and arrested over one hundred persons.

According to legal experts, if proved guilty the identified accused might face severe penalty because the case against them has been registered under Pakistan Penal Code’s (PPC) Sections 354 A (assault or use of criminal force against woman and stripping her of her clothes). This offence carries a penalty from 3-year imprisonment to death, which is suspended by the government temporarily).

The other sections include 382 (theft after preparation made for causing death, hurt or restraint in order to commit the theft), 147 (rioting) and 149 (unlawful assembly).