NC, PDP begin political war over Kulgam ‘rape’
CID probing Mufti’s 20-minute “secret tour” to Aharbal on July 20; Mehbooba, Sakeena face hostile crowds at Manzgam
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
DIG South Kashmir, Shafqat Watali, and SP Kulgam, Mubassir Lateefi, are camping at the National Conference leader and Minister of Social Welfare Sakeena Itoo’s residential village of Damhal Hanjipora in Kulgam district since Thursday last when a 24-year-old woman, Ruqaya W/o Abdul Lateef Bhatti of Gujjardar hamlet, near Manzgam, complained to Police that she had been abducted, wrongfully confined and raped by two soldiers of the Indian army. Police and Tehsildar have recorded her statement, with certain contradictions of facts by her, and filed an FIR of abduction, wrongful confinement and rape.
DIG has constituted SIT, comprising Additional SP of Kulgam Mohammad Shafi Mir, Dy SP of SOG Kulgam Zulfikar Choudhary, Prosecuting Officer Mohammad Rafi and Assistant Commissioner Revenue Tassaduq Hussain. SP Kulgam, Mubassir Lateefi, who is supervising the investigation, told Early Times that immediately after getting the complainant’s statement recorded and her physical examination and collection of vaginal swab by a team of doctors, the woman was taken all the way to Chhiranbal pastures, in the steep Pir Panjal foothills, on Friday. According to him, Chhiranbal is around 10 Kms from Ruqaya’s residential village. She identified a dhok in which she was allegedly raped by two soldiers, both wearing Army uniform and carrying radio sets. He refused to share details.
However, other sources associated with the investigation, revealed that Police failed to find any circumstantial evidence of the alleged crime. A nearby dhok, which was allegedly used by the duo for making tea, was also found without any evidence of recent human presence, remnants of food or utensils. These sources said that an Army patrol was believed to have been in movement on July 20th but nearest camps of RR 62 Bn and RR 09 Bn, at Nihama and Damhal Hanjipora respectively, were at least 20 kilometres from the alleged site of occurrence. Total absence of mobile telecommunication signals in the hilly terrain was another problem as, like many cases in the last 9 years, it could have proved useful in identification of the criminals and their movement.
As already reported, a lady doctor, who examined the complainant’s body and genital organs, has certified that Ruqaya had no marks of torture, violence or resistance on her body. Vaginal swabs of the married woman, containing dead spermatozoa of 72 hours, have been sent by CMO Kulgam to FSL in
. SIT sources said that after availability of the genetic analysis, all suspects would be subjected to DNA fingerprinting. This process would determine whether the sperms belonged to the woman’s husband or anyone else. SIT is also looking for a civilian, identified as Shabir, whose name had figured during initial complaints but was later withdrawn. Srinagar
“Unlike Shopian, the alleged victim is very much alive and we are hopeful to crack every mystery after FSL report and DNA”, DIG Watali said. He too declined to share details with the plea that it could hamper the investigation.
Police and civil administration are now relieved that yesterday’s violence has failed to spread to other areas. A mob had torched official vehicle of Tehsildar as also a civilian’s motorcycle after Friday prayers yesterday even as PDP President camped at Manzam and she refused to leave until Ruqaya was “returned to her family”. She relented only after she was convinced that Ruqayya had led a Police party to the spot and would return only in the evening.
In the morning today, NC’s MLA of the area and Minister of Social Welfare, Sakeena Itoo, visited the complainant’s home at Gujjardar, 2 miles from Manzam, residential village of PDP’s former MLA of the area and former Minister Abdul Aziz Zargar. She interacted with the family members and assured them that a fair and transparent investigation would be conducted and the guilty would be punished by Omar Abdullah-led coalition government.
PDP sources claimed that Sakeena was booed and heckled by hostile crowds who asked her to return and make statements only after the culprits were identified and arrested by her Police. “It’s completely false. Fact is that Mehbooba Mufti was heckled and attacked by a hostile mob yesterday. She took shelter in Mr Zargar’s house and moved out under Police protection later”, Sakeena claimed.
Here in the capital city, top-ranking authoritative sources revealed to this newspaper that CID was investigating as to why PDP patron, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had “secretly” visited Aharbal and stayed there for just 20 minutes for a brief meeting with some residents. Tourist attraction of Aharbal is situated just two miles from the complainant woman’s village. According to reports available with the government, Mufti had, as per his schedule, addressed a public meeting at Shopian on July 21 and thereafter made an unscheduled visit to Aharbal.
The lady came forward with her complaint on July 21 when Mufti was addressing a public meeting at Kulgam and Chief Minister, alongwith Sakeena and most of NC’s south Kashmir-based leaders, was addressing a rally at Kaimoh village in Kulgam district.