In the wake of an alleged rape of a three-year-old girl in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district on May 9, a complete shutdown was observed in the Valley on Monday. People took to streets, and carried out demonstrations, demanding immediate action in the case.
The victim was allegedly raped in Malikpora, Sumbal area of Bandipora district by a local boy who was identified as Tahir Ahmad Mir (20).
As per police officials, the accused has been arrested, and an FIR has been registered under Sections 363/342/376 of RPC. Investigation in the case is underway, said the police.
Reports said that protests broke out in Kupwara, Sopore, Pattan Chanabal, Mirgund, Hygam, Sumbal, Kreeri, Baramulla, Srinagar and Anantnag on Monday. Agitation intensified in Pattan Chanabal, which led to clashes between the government forces and protesters.
Shops, schools, colleges and other business establishments remained closed on Monday. However, students from various colleges participated in the protest rallies.
According to reports, forces used tear gas, pepper gas canisters and pellets to disperse the protesters, due to which at least 12 people were injured. One among them was reportedly struck by a tear gas shell on his head. His situation was declared critical by the doctors at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital.
Soon after the clashes, the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, requested people to abide by law, and maintain peace.
He promised that an inquiry will be conducted on a fast track basis and that he will monitor the status of the case personally.
Khan also assured that justice will be done, and the culprit will be given severe punishment as per the law.
On the same day, police summoned the principal of a private school for allegedly giving a fake birth certificate in favour of the accused.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Bandipora, Rahul Malik, told a local news agency Global News Service (GNS) that the fake certificate has been issued by Ali Mohammad Thakur, principal of the High School Islamia Educational Trust, Trigam.
“We have brought him for questioning with regard to the issuance of DOB which showed the accused as a minor,” the SSP said.
He added that the age of accused will be determined on the basis of scientific medical test to be conducted by a team of senior doctors.
As per police officials, preliminary medical examination has shown that he is not a juvenile.
A senior police official, while speaking to Press Trust of India, said that police is treating the accused as a major, not as a juvenile. He also mentioned as per medical examination accused is an adult.
Soon after the outcry across the valley, a few neighbours have reportedly asked the accused boy’s family to leave. While speaking to NewsClick, a neighbour (wishing anonymity) said that they did so, as things might turn against them in the village.
“They agreed with us and managed to leave before the dusk. We did it for their safety. Otherwise, they will be punished for a crime which they have not committed,” he said.
Communist Party of India (Marxist), J&K’s committee secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that the rape of a three-year-old girl is the most shameful act that goes against the human values. He also emphasised the need for a comprehensive campaign against the obscurantism, exploitation and violence against women.
“There should be no room for those who shield the criminals under one garb or the other. We hope that the governor’s administration will probe the incident on a fast-track basis and punish the culprit. It is a shocking incident and calls for strictest possible punishment for the perpetrator,” he said.
Former CM and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted that the rape of a child in Trigam is a travesty.
“@JmuKmrPolice must ensure a speedy investigation with only one consideration and that is to identify the guilty, prepare a watertight case & ensure exemplary punishment to those responsible,” he said.
To maintain the law and order situation, government authorities have ordered to keep all the educational institutions in Sonawari Sumbal belt of North Kashmir, government degree college, Shopian and all Government Higher Secondary Schools and Government Degree Colleges closed on May 14, 2019.
Also read: Bandipora Rape Case: Protests Erupt In Kashmir, Family Cries For Justice