Thousands protest rape of three-year-old in Kashmir
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Indian-controlled Kashmir to protest the alleged rape of a three-year-old girl by a neighbour who lured her to a school bathroom, escalating into intense clashes between protesters and government forces.
Top local administrator Baseer Khan said yesterday that police arrested the suspect in a village in Sumbal town and a fast-track inquiry is under way.
Police said the girl was hospitalised in critical condition on May 8, but her condition has stabilised.
Protests erupted Sunday and spread to new areas on Monday after the suspect’s family produced a school-issued birth certificate giving his age as 13. The protesters claimed it was a fake birth certificate produced by the family to show him as a juvenile and save him from a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The protesters said the suspect is at least 20 and worked in a motor repair workshop.
Police said they were questioning the school principal who issued the birth certificate.
Protesters blocked highways and fought pitched battles with government forces at several areas in the region. During the clashes, police and paramilitary soldiers fired shotgun pellets and tear gas, and also fired into the air to stop stone-throwing protesters from marching on highways.
About 100 civilians and government personnel were injured in the clashes, police and medics said. One young man was said to be in critical condition.
Hundreds of students also joined protest marches demanding justice for the victim.
Khan, the administrator, appealed for calm. “Justice will be done and the culprit will be given fair punishment as per the law,” he said.