SRINAGAR Residents of a Bandipora village where a three-year-old girl was raped by her neighbor have denounced attempts by certain vested interests to turn the tragedy into a sectarian issue.
ThePrint reported that clashes just outside the village and across Kashmir have residents of Malikpora village in Sumbal area of Bandipora district worried.
After the alleged rape, personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police were posted outside the home of the accused to repulse retaliatory attacks. The family has since moved out.
A tragedy has hit our village and there are vested interests making it a sectarian issue, the website quoted Mohammad Manzoor, a local businessman, as saying. Shame on the people who are using the misery of a small girl to their benefit.
Mohammad Shafi, another resident, almost broke down while pointing towards the washroom where the crime allegedly took place.
Islam stands for justice and it must be delivered swiftly, he added.
The accused and his family were described as a social menace by almost everyone with whom the correspondent spoke on Tuesday.
Their alleged escapades with the law, mysterious lifestyle, history of violence and crime, and tendency to stay aloof, which is rare in Kashmir, are widely discussed in the village.
The father of the accused was well-off at one point, but lost everything due to his gambling habits. Everything went downhill [from there], said Mohammad Ibrahim, a local farmer and a friend of the accuseds father.
He sold one of his sons for Rs 5,000 to a family that wanted a male child. That family gave him a newborn girl in return, but the boy passed away, so they came to take their girl back. They had to pay another Rs 10,000, he added.
Other villagers accused the sons of engaging in theft. One day, he (the accused) returned home late with a bloodied face and claimed he had met with an accident but, as we probed further, we found he had been caught stealing, and thrashed, said one villager.
Villagers told ThePrint that it was on their advice that the family had left Malikpora in light of the rape.
After he was arrested, the villagers went to the family. They wanted to leave. We told them that no one will punish them for the crime of their son, but, with tempers running so high, it would be in their interest to leave, said one of the residents. They eventually did.
A week since she was raped, the three-year-old victim assaulted by a neighbour in Kashmirs Sumbal region is unable to stand, and remains deeply fearful of strangers.
The accused has been arrested and his family has moved out of their home in Malikpora village, but the childs relatives say it will be a long time before she can wander and play freely, as she did before 8 May, when she was allegedly raped in the toilet of a local school.