Search For Missing Sisters Leads to a DJ, Drugs and Viral Sexual Assault Videos

The case has shocked the conservative Pakistani city Quetta, which is only 80 miles from Afghanistan.

The distressing video shows a young woman crying and being forced to crawl naked on the floor with a thin tarp rope around her neck. She begs for mercy as the rope is yanked. In another video, a dazed-looking teenager is squatting on the ground begging for food, saying, “I am hungry. I am your servant.” The same girl is shown in another video with another woman, both of them squatting on the ground in a room with balloons, mirrors and a dance floor. The man filming demands them to take their clothes off. One of the girls begins to remove her clothes while hyperventilating.

Advertisement

All three videos went viral late last year in Pakistan. Police investigations revealed that the videos show two missing sisters, age 19 and 15, and are the primary evidence in a case to charge the DJ Hidayat Khilji and his brother Khalil Khilji for the sisters’ abduction and sextortion in the Pakistani city Quetta.

The case has sent shockwaves through the conservative city, which is only 80 miles east of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Police believe the sisters are in Kabul, Afghanistan. They have yet to determine whether it was the Khilji brothers who smuggled them across the border.

It all started on Dec. 3, when their stepmother, Fouzia Bibi, filed a police report stating that her two teenage daughters, Haniya, 19, and Leena, 15, were missing. Their names have been changed in this story per police request to protect their safety. In the report, Bibi accused Hidayat and Khalil of abducting, torturing and blackmailing the girls. 

“[The brothers] have been forcing [Haniya and Leena] into prostitution after recording their nude videos and threatening them,” Bibi alleged, adding that Hidayat and Khalil had been blackmailing the teenagers for two years. 

The same day the police report was filed, police arrested Hidayat and Khalil at their rented house in Quetta, where they recovered the brothers’ phones, a laptop and a tablet. Police raided Hidayat’s house a second time, on Dec. 17, seizing 222 grams of meth, 1.8 grams of heroin and 100 opioid pills that he was allegedly preparing to smuggle to Karachi city. The Quetta police could not find the girls.

Up until his arrest, Hidayat Khilji’s DJed parties were famous among the young elite in Quetta city. Screenshots from videos of his parties posted on social media. Credit: Ghalib Nehad

Up until his arrest, Hidayat Khilji’s DJed parties were famous among the young elite in Quetta city. They were known for a trifecta of booze, meth and young women. 

At every event, strobe lights, tribal house music and a buffet of drugs awaited them. The chaotic bacchanals took place in basements and rented farmhouses in the city’s upscale neighbourhoods. 

Advertisement

“The atmosphere was like you had entered a zombie party. You had all kinds of drugs available there,” Saif, an old acquaintance of Hidayat who attended the parties, told VICE World News. Saif’s name has been changed at his request to protect him from retaliation from Khilji.

Quetta isn’t exactly party central. The city is home to many conservative and traditional tribal communities. But that didn’t matter to Hidayat. The amateur DJ and alleged drug dealer would reportedly peddle cocaine, meth and heroin at his parties with Khalil. After all, their late grandfather Habibullah Khilji was infamously known as the “Hashish King” of Quetta. Not one to be confined to Quetta, Hidayat hosted similar ragers in the Pakistani megacities of Karachi and Lahore.

But something else was happening behind the scenes at the parties, which took place before pandemic lockdowns in 2019 and 2020. “You can tell when someone has been drugged. The girls there were. I never saw them taking anything themselves at the parties,” said Saif. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. 

“The girls were blackmailed. Their videos were used as collateral in exchange for sexual favours,” said Saif. 

Four days after the Khilji brothers were arrested, a teenage survivor came forward to police and registered another complaint against them on Dec. 7. 

Leena’s 17-year-old friend Maryam, whose name has also been changed for safety reasons, filed a police complaint against the brothers for rape, intimidation and blackmail. Maryam alleged that Leena had told her two years before about a potential job opportunity offered by a man she knew. Maryam and Leena then went to a house where they met Hidayat and Khalil, who stripped, assaulted and filmed them. The brothers then threatened to release the videos unless the girls agreed to meet them whenever they called. 

Advertisement

At one such meeting, the girls were accompanied by Leena’s sister Haniya to a house the brothers had called them to. “There were a number of girls present there. They told us that Hidayat and Khalil regularly drug them, film them naked, sexually assault and blackmail them… I have seen this with my own eyes. These actions have been done to many girls,” Maryam’s police report stated. Maryam went on to accuse a third man, identified as “Shani,” of joining the brothers in sexually assaulting, filming and blackmailing the girls. 

The Khilji brothers’ lawyer Raja Jawad dismissed Maryam’s testimony with classic victim-blaming language. “Someone who would care about their own reputation would not disclose this information even after two years. And if they did not care about it, then they should have disclosed this information on the first day if they were being blackmailed so much,” Jawad told VICE World News. 

The police disagree. “So far, we have seen that the accounts provided by the complainants have been fully supported. As of this moment, we believe that Hidayat, his brother and the third accused are guilty. We have sufficient evidence that supports the allegations against them,” Quetta’s deputy inspector general of police, Fida Hassan Shah, told VICE World News.

In an independent report, the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cybercrime Wing said: “[Our] technical report reveals that obscene, nude videos and pictures of minor girl [Maryam] and other minors are present.” The agency, which analysed the pornographic material, then charged Hidayat and Khalil with child pornography and offences against the modesty of a minor, which is a crime in Pakistan.

Advertisement

Shortly after Hidayat’s arrest, a video emerged showing Haniya saying that the Khilji brothers were innocent and that her stepmother was only framing them. She went on to say that she and Leena had been smuggled to Afghanistan because of the police complaint. 

Investigators tracked the video’s IP address and found that it was indeed uploaded from Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. Believing the sisters are still in Afghanistan, the police say they have contacted Afghan authorities to assist in locating the sisters. They suspect Haniya was pressured into making the video. 

“It seems that elements of human trafficking might possibly be involved,” said Shah, who declined to provide further details to protect the investigation. 

Nine days after their arrest, a protest against the Khilji brothers was held on Dec. 12 in Quetta, Pakistan. Speakers asked families to encourage Khilji's other victims to come forward and file complaints with police to get justice. Photo: Sabeen Malik

Federal investigators say cyber blackmailing and sextortion cases are on the rise in Pakistan. Data from the FIA show 3,447 such complaints filed in 2020 alone. Although data for 2019 is not publicly available, the agency confirmed cases have been exponentially increasing since 2019. Sextortion is the practice of forcing someone to do something, particularly sexual acts, by threatening to publish their naked photos or videos or sexual information about them.

“We frequently receive complaints of such cases,” a law enforcement official told VICE World News on condition of anonymity, as they are not authorised to speak on the matter. But although the modus is “not something new,” the official said affordable smartphones and accessible internet is making it easier for criminals to blackmail their victims.

“Some aspects of the crime are old, as in the way perpetrators kidnap victims or lure them under the pretext of hiring them for jobs, as in this case. But with the advent of [affordable] mobile phones, offenders can now record everything to further blackmail the person,” the official said. “By threatening to ruin the reputation of a victim, they force them to succumb to their wishes.”

Advertisement

The overwhelming majority of victims in such cases are women and girls. In 2020, the nonprofit Digital Rights Foundation’s Cyber Harassment Helpline recorded a total of 3,298 cyber harassment complaints, which largely consisted of blackmail cases. Some 66 percent of the reported complaints were by women and girls. Within the first two months of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, the organisation recorded a 200 percent increase in cyber harassment complaints by women, the majority of which were related to nonconsensual porn and blackmail. 

The case of Haniya, Leena and Maryam has created a firestorm of shock in Quetta. 

“There is a lot of anger and outrage in our community about this case. Members of the religious leadership have been trying to keep people calm to prevent them from taking the law into their own hands. People want justice and want the criminals to be punished,” Ali Husnain, convenor of Quetta’s National Reform Committee, told VICE World News. 

Many are convinced the Khilji brothers have victimised dozens of other girls and women who have not come forward for fear of damage to their reputation and victim-blaming. There have been no other formal complaints against the brothers besides Bibi’s and Maryam’s. The FIA’s Cyber Crime Wing declined VICE World News’ requests to verify the number of victims based on recovered videos, citing the ongoing investigation. 

Advertisement

“In Pakistan, because of victim-blaming, people don't come forward. Quetta is a very tribal and conservative place and the people involved are very powerful. You never know what they might do to you,” Sabeen Malik, a journalist who started the social media hashtag #HIDAYAT_THE_RAPIST that helped the case go viral, told VICE World News. “It’s very easy here to threaten someone, to blackmail or pressure someone or their family. Because of this, I doubt that the rest of the [survivors] will come forward.”

Their story has also escalated pushback around the limited freedoms afforded to women and girls in the region, Malik said. Quetta city, which has a population of one million, has the highest number of reported cases of violence against women in Balochistan, the Pakistani province with the largest gender gap. 

“Females here are already suffering. In Balochistan, going out to work is very difficult for women.” Malik said. “It’s already very difficult to convince parents to let their daughters out of the house to get an education. When incidents like this happen, then there is a lot of despair among everyone.” 

At the protest on Dec. 12, social activist Kulsoom Iftikhar passionately spoke and encouraged other survivors to go to the police. “I appeal to the parents of the victims who have been blackmailed with videos, please come forward. Times have changed, don’t stay silent in fear of your girls’ reputations, we are with you,” she said. “We stand with you and we will support you and help your girls’ get justice.”

Kulsoom Iftikhar speaking at the Dec. 12 protest demanding a speedy sentencing of the Khilji brothers in Quetta, Pakistan. She encouraged other survivors to come forward to help prosecute them. Photo: Sabeen Malik

Many in Quetta are dismayed by the investigation’s slow progress. Nine weeks in, the Khilji brothers have yet to be formally charged. Both Hidayat and Khalil remain in jail under judicial remand, while the third accused, Shani, is still missing. The court issued notices to formally charge the detained men after Feb. 1.

Because the Khiljis are among Quetta’s elite, Malik and other locals are wary about the prosecution. “Right now, no one is cooperating and we don’t see anything happening with this case. We believe that a lot of people were involved in this. You feel that influence when a case is not proceeding,” she said. 

“The people who were involved in the parties were members of the elite class. [Hidayat] has many resources at his disposal. We don’t want him to use those resources to bury the case,” said Husnain. 

The police deny they are being pressured by the city’s powerful. “We have been hearing this from people. Although there is pressure from the community for the accused’s prosecution and conviction, we have not been politically pressured. Our intention is to make this case strong,” said Shah, the city’s top cop. 

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the case, many in Quetta are still hoping that the missing sisters will be found. “It’s very easy to scare and threaten victims, so you never know what is happening to them or where they are. The least we can do now is to give them the confidence that we are still with them,” said Malik, who is also concerned about other survivors.

“There are so many other girls who haven’t come forward. If these things continue in our society and the culprits are not punished, we’re scared that more girls will become victims.”

Follow Rimal Farrukh on Twitter.

Tagged:

Drugs, Πακιστάν, south asia, Sextortion, worldnews, worldnews crime

More
like this
He Was Looking for a Hookup on Grindr. He Walked Into a Sextortion Gang.
This Business Tycoon Tortured His Daughter’s Friend for Rejecting Him, Police Say
11-Year-Old Child Worker Killed For Eating Food From His Employer’s Fridge
Spate of Transphobic Attacks Leads to 3 Murders. Trans Women in This Country Are Terrified.
Australian Woman’s Father-in-Law Arrested for Killing Her With an Axe
College Student Gang-Raped and Filmed by His Friends for ‘Looking’ Trans
This Popular Women’s Movement Won’t Stop Despite Death Threats
She Died Resisting an Abduction. Hundreds Like Her Are Forced Into Marriage.