Less than a month after a Kashmiri girl committed suicide after being allegedly raped by her father, a three-year-old girl has been allegedly raped by her neighbour in the same Bandipora district of north Kashmir, triggering widespread protests across the Valley. While the Jammu and Kashmir Police promptly arrested the accused much before any protests had actually even erupted, the protesters are demanding capital punishment in the case.
As per the complaint filed by the family, the little girl was raped on May 8, in her native village in Sumbal area, just before Iftaar, when Muslims break bread after sunset in the ongoing fasting month of Ramzan.
The family said that the accused lured the child with candy, abducted and then raped her at the toilet of a nearby school in the vicinity. “We found her in a nearby area and informed the local police,” the family told media persons. Soon after the incident was reported, the police arrested the accused, who is a school dropout, hailing from the same Sumbal area.
Outrage over offence: People in Kashmir are protesting against the heinous rape of a 3-year old girl. (Source: India Today)
The accused has been identified as a Tahir Ahmad, allegedly a car mechanic, believed to be above 18. But his actual age is being ascertained as some want to plead him being minor. Well, why should someone who is old enough to commit rape be seen through the prism of age anyway?
The victim, on the other hand, was referred to a hospital in Srinagar for medical examination. As per the SSP Bandipora, Rahul Malik, a case has been registered and the accused was produced before a court which sent him onto police remand.
The Raj Bhawan has assured a fair probe. As per the official handout, Governor Satya Pal Malik has “directed the police to work swiftly in the case and ensure that the culprit gets exemplary punishment for this shameful act.” But then, as no one is believed to be witness to the crime and the child is too young to reveal her ordeal with details, it is mainly the medical examination and the forensic reports that will play a key role in cracking the case.
The general reaction to the heinous crime, however, has been chaotic. And the local media doesn’t seem to have played its role responsibly.
Assuring justice: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has directed the police to work swiftly on the case. (Source: India Today)
Some of the prominent local dailies, who previously hadn’t reported about the girl who committed suicide after being allegedly raped by her father last month, this time reported on the fresh rape incident only after four days, when protests had already spilled across Kashmir. Over the days, in the absence of clarity from sections of local media as to what actually had happened, chaos fueled the violence. Dozens of people and security force personnel have been wounded in clashes. The condition of one of the wounded civilians, a youth who was hit by pellets, is reported to be critical.
But then, why violence?
Well, roadside conspiracy theorists let rumours fly thick and fast. Some of them gave the crime a sectarian angle of the Shia–Sunni divide. But then, for those who look at the 'sectarian conspiracy' as a reason behind this crime should also have a look into the other recent rape case from the district. The terrible case of the father who is accused of raping his daughter — both persons belong to the same sect.
Protests erupted and continue in several parts of the Kashmir Valley, following the rape of the 3-year-old child. (Source: AP)
As of now, protests continue to spread. Many of the roads, including the national highway connecting the summer capital of Srinagar with north Kashmir, have been bearing the brunt of violence. During the fasting month, commuters remain stranded for hours due to dharnas. Why pelt stones on fellow civilians or the security forces when the accused is neither of them? And why, I wonder, should we block roads? How can putting people to inconvenience bring us justice?
The chaotic reaction is only giving a message that violence must go on, no matter which way it goes or where it leads. Political parties are seemingly playing their traditional role. Cutting across individual ideologies, politicians from both the mainstream and separatist camps have condemned the incident. But their statements haven’t been able to restore calm.
The role of the separatist leadership, which has otherwise championed the cause of giving calls for shutdowns, looks even more questionable. The Hurriyat leaders, who, in the past, have called for hartals even against the arrest of their sons-in-laws, didn’t agree to observe a shutdown against this rape. The prominent Shia leader and head of Etihadul Muslimeen, Maulana Masroor Abbas Ansari, had given a call for a shutdown on May 13. Though his party is a constituent of the Hurriyat, the separatist leadership, which presently operates under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership, the JRL, didn’t support his call.
It seems that the Hurriyat leadership doesn’t find heinous crimes against women, or even babies, “cognizable” — unless the accused are men in uniform.
Maulana Masroor Abbas Ansari has called for a shutdown in the wake of the terrible rape of a tiny child in Kashmir. (Source: YouTube)
For many like them, the incidents like a father alleged to have raped his daughter or a three-year-old reportedly raped by a neighbour in Ramzan, can only malign the “larger Kashmir cause”. Ironically, the little girl fell prey to the crime only a few days after Kashmir’s head priest and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called a meeting of Islamic scholars in the wake of the incestuous incident, where a man allegedly preyed upon his own daughter in Bandipora. While the meeting had resolved to evolve a strategy to make Kashmir crime-free through social awareness of Islam in the Muslim-dominated state, the next shocker came exactly in the Islamic month considered deeply sacred by the entire Muslim community.
As the protests go on, two more breaking news popped up in Kashmir.
One, police said, a youth had been arrested in Ganderbal for allegedly raping a minor girl. Two, burglars struck at the historic Aali Masjid in Srinagar and decamped with valuables.
If recent incidents are a warning, Kashmir is headed to be a place where daughters are not secure at home and in the neighborhood — and even mosques are not secure from burglars.
Rather than resorting to protests, we Kashmiris need to collectively introspect — with our heads hanging down in shame!
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