Srinagar, Feb 8: Shazia (not her real name), a dark-haired, 8 year-old, sits quietly in a wooden chair. She, at first, seems like any girl her age, but a closer look reveals the fear in her eyes.
Her pale face gives way to a coy smile, as the psychologist asks her name, which she lisps with a slight shudder in her voice.
Dr Ulfat Jan , her Counsellor and Assistant Professor in the department of Psychology at Amar Singh College here, tries to access her mind.
Shazia, is asked to colour drawings on a sketch book placed before her. Her hand trembles, as she holds a black crayon between her slender fingers.
Shazia has suffered repeated sexual abuse from her father, following her mother’s death two years after she was born.
Her two elder sisters have fled their home after they, too, were subjected to continuous sexual and physical abuse by their father.
“I tried to find out the reason why her elder sisters left her alone knowing she too might fall prey to the abuse. The findings disturbed me even more,” said Dr Ulfat
Her sisters, as per the counsellor, had disclosed the tale of their abuse to their paternal aunt, who took a little cognisance and advised them to be quiet about their ill fate.
No relief in sight, they sought shelter at their relative’s place.
“Our Aunt was aware of the abuse all the while. Instead of taking any action against her brother, she put the blame on us. She taunted us continuously that we will bring disrepute to the family. We had no option but to flee our home,” said one of the sisters.
Shazia has stopped going to school. Sometimes, she wakes up screaming in the night and bursts into loud sobs. The sight of elderly men sends chills down her spine.
“She is too young to understand the torture she has endured. The emotional and psychological trauma inflicted on her can last lifelong” said Dr Ulfat.
Maryam (name changed), 15, loved to talk and laugh with her friends.
Of late, she has, however, undergone a sudden transformation: she hardly interacts with anyone, confines to her room, and has stopped going for tuitions to a coaching centre.
Her cousin noticed the change, and decided to investigate. What she found was shocking.
“I tried to initiate a conversation with her, but to no avail. After a week she came up to me with tearful eyes, and revealed how her teacher tried to assault her,” the cousin said.
The teacher at her coaching centre had made frequent attempts to touch her private parts, made obscene gestures while teaching, and often grinned slyly at her.
For a few days, she skipped classes and preferred to stay home. On parental insistence, she resumed her classes, and the teacher continued to harass her.
“On inquiring further, I found that other girl students too faced harassment from the same person. But nobody complained, fearing the wrath of the teacher,” Maryam’s cousin said.
Sexual abuse, however, is not restricted to girls alone; a harrowing testimony to the abuse faced by the boys comes from a 24-year-old science student, Umar Khan (name changed).
He was sodomised at the age of 15.
“My abuser was a policeman. I remember I was walking to home after school. He stopped me midway and threatened to harm me if I didn’t go with him. He took me to a secluded spot and sodomised me,” he said.
Umar still gets panic attacks every time he spots a police vehicle. Flashbacks from the traumatic incident keep haunting him.
“That time, my brain was unable to register the pain I had gone through. I had no vocabulary to understand it,” lamented Umar.
The epidemic of child sexual abuse continues to haunt the lives of many young boys and girls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Getting them to report such incidents is a challenge, as the public and private discourse on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is still a strong taboo in the society.
Most children, therefore, have no means to vent their trauma. Incidents of abuse reported, therefore, are quite disproportionate to the extent of the epidemic.
National Crime Records Bureau NCRB (2016), Jammu and Kashmir reports only 222 cases of sexual abuse against juveniles in 2016.
“Five children were murdered, 25 sexually assaulted, 167 kidnapped, and five unnatural cases were reported in the state,” reveals the data.
Faith healers, too, are among the culprits in Kashmir. From acquitted Gulzar Peer to under-trial Aijaz Sheikh, the cases of faith-healers abusing the children have come to fore.
Habeel Iqbal, Lawyer in the Shopian District and Sessions Court, concurs that the number of CSA cases in the valley is much higher.
“Official data is just the tip of an ice-berg,” he said. “The need of the hour is the implementation of ‘POSCO Act’ in the valley.”
“Many laws of the centre are extended here, but unfortunately, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act (POSCO) is not extended to the state,” he said.
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, aimed to protect children from sexual abuse, including harassment, penetrative or non-penetrative and pornographic depiction.
The Act mandates stringent punishment for child abusers ranging from simple to rigorous imprisonment for varying periods and a fine.
The Act also mandated setting up of special courts, where such cases can be tried expeditiously.
Its unavailability in Kashmir ensures that even the consolation of a token is not available. In its absence, timely identification and prevention is the only recourse available.
A strong network of trained counsellors is the first step towards it.
“We need trained counsellors in every school who can sensitise children about good touch, bad touch and in turn help them identify the signs of abuse,” said, Dr Ulfat
She believes that the psychological first aid for CSA victims is to give them a “sense of protection” and “sense of security”.
“We can’t interact and counsel a child the way we do with adults. It is practically impossible for him to speak up against the adult offender given his lack of vocabulary,” said Ulfat.
Dr Wakar Amin, a social worker and Assistant Professor at MSW Department of Kashmir University, said that it was important for parents to create an environment for disclosure and keep a lookout on the behavioural pattern of their children.
“Such cases don’t come forward primarily because of the age of the child and the kind of barrier we as parents have developed with our kids,” he said.
“In many cases parents don’t report the abuse to the police fearing it may tarnish their reputation.”
He admitted that they don’t have enough counsellors and social workers to deal with CSA victims.
“We have many so-called child right activists but they only talk about the issues which they feel are comfortable with,” he said.
India MODIfied, totally
BJP footprint extended across NEWS
New Delhi, May 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday led his Bharatiya Janata Party towards a resounding victory for a second term in office, as his message of nationalism, security, Hindu pride and a New India was wholeheartedly embraced by voters across large swathes of the country.
With the elections establishing the 68-year-old Modi as the most popular leader in decades, the partial vote count released by the Election Commission showed that BJP will surpass its 2014 performance.
BJP grabbed a victory bigger than in 2014 – a 300-plus figure with which BJP reached as a single largest party.
The BJP kept its core states – the Hindi heartland, Gujarat and Maharashtra – while posting fresh victories in Bengal, Odisha and the northeast. It has also scored a huge win in Karnataka – a state the Congress rules jointly with HD Kumaraswamy.
“Together we grow. Together we prosper. Together we will build a strong and inclusive India. India wins yet again! #VijayiBharat,” PM Modi tweeted.
Modi himself was leading in Varanasi with a margin of over 4.3 lakh votes while party president Amit Shah was ahead in Gandhinagar in their home state of Gujarat by over 5.5 lakh votes.
In the end, BJP’s prediction in the final stages of campaigning of “ab ki baar 300 paar” appeared coming true, as Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s campaign slogan of “chowkidar chor hai” found no resonance among voters.
Markets cheered the trends, as the benchmark BSE Sensex touched 40,000 for the first time and NSE Nifty breached the 12,000 level. The rupee appreciated 14 paise to 69.51 against the US dollar trade.
If the trends stay until final results, the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance will likely end up with 344 seats, up from 336 in 2014. The BJP, which is now tantalisingly close to the 300 mark in Lok Sabha, had won 282 seats on its own in the last election.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi — Many Congratulations for securing such a big victory for the BJP. I am thankful to the people,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted.
The results are a ringing endorsement of Modi’s popularity, his government’s achievements in the last five years and his campaign, which centred around national security following the Balakot air strikes, nationalism and Hindutva. He also relentlessly attacked the Congress Party for what he called its dynastic legacy, and blamed it for the country’s woes, including endemic corruption.
The opposition had criticised the BJP campaign as divisive and polarising.
Still, the trend shows that the Modi wave and the party’s brilliant election management swept across geographies, caste lines, age, gender and economic status.
In the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine had posed a stiff challenge, the BJP was leading in 59 of the 80 seats at stake. The SP was ahead in six and BSP in 11. Although the BJP had won 71 seats in the last elections, the performance is much better than what many exit polls had forecast.
The BJP state headquarters in Lucknow was drenched in saffron hue with jubilant party workers wearing saffron stoles, adorning ‘genda’ flowers around their necks and holding lotus cut outs. They also burst crackers and danced to drum beats as women supporters wore saffron attire and painted their nails in the same hue.
In a stark contrast, Congress, BSP and SP offices wore a forlorn look. Under the scorching sun, even shop owners selling campaign material outside the SP office sat in stunned silence as those gathered around the tea kiosks talked in hushed tones
The Congress Party was ahead only in one seat in Uttar Pradesh. Even, Gandhi was trailing BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi by nearly 20,000 votes but was clearly ahead in Wayanad in Kerala with a lead of more than 8.3 lakh votes.
“Congress party is feeling dejected and the trends are not in line with the expectations of the party. I would not jump to the results till complete counting has taken place,” Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill told reporters.
“If they (trends) hold, then Congress needs to introspect as to why its campaign failed to resonate with the people of the country,” he said.
The Modi wave not only swept through the Hindi heartland and Gujarat, as was expected, but also rippled through West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh appeared untouched. Even in Telangana, where it was expected to fare poorly, the BJP was ahead in four seats, the same as the Telangana Rashtra Samiti.
However, Andhra Pradesh threw up a shock in the Assembly polls, which were held simultaneously, voting out of power the Telugu Desam Party of Chandrababu Naidu, and electing Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress.
The Lok Sabha trends were staggering for BJP in the Hindi-speaking states, including those where Congress had won in the recent Assembly elections: in Madhya Pradesh, BJP was ahead in 28 out of 29 seats with a vote percentage of nearly 60; in Rajasthan it was leading in all but one of 25 seats; similarly in Chattisgarh, BJP was ahead in nine compared to Congress’ 2 seats.
Haryana also is expected to send nine BJP MPs out of 10.
“The people on the ground are not buying the narrative of the opposition that people are under threat. People are doing well that they are looking forward to the next government of Narendra Modi. We have to realise that Modi’s government inherited very weak economy and he done very phenomenal job (in the last five year),” BJP’s Amit Malviya said.
In Odisha, the BJP made huge gains, forging ahead in six of the 21 seats while the Biju Janata Dal was ahead in 15. In 2014, the BJD had won 20 seats and BJP took one. Odisha also held simultaneous Assembly polls, in which the BJD is set to return to power, indicating that the voters chose smartly, opting for the status quo in both state and centre.
BJP and its ally Janata Dal (United) were ahead in 16 seats each in Bihar out of 40 at stake.
The Trinamool Congress Party was leading in 22 of 42 seats of West Bengal while BJP was ahead in 19, up from two it held in 2014. The Left was wiped out in the state, once its citadel.
The DMK was ahead in 20 seats in Tamil Nadu while the AIADMK was leading in only two. In Kerala, the Congress-led UDF was ahead in 18 out of 20 seats.
As the trends came in, pointing to another tenure of Modi as prime minister, celebrations broke out in the BJP’s party offices across the country with people dancing to the sounds of drums and distributing sweets.
The trends of the ruling party’s leads were in sync with the exit polls, most of which predicted that the NDA would be on course to retain power for a second term.
In 2014, the BJP won 282 seats, leaving the Congress with an all-time low of 44 seats against the 206 it won in 2009.
The counting exercise is on in over 4,000 counting centres amid concerns raised by opposition parties over alleged tampering of EVMs. They have asked the Election Commission to ensure transparency in counting.
Election Commission officials said results are expected only by late evening.
The voting was staggered between April 11 and May 19 in which around 67 per cent of the nearly 900 million eligible people exercised their franchise to elect 542 members of the Lok Sabha from a total of 8,049 contestants. For the first time in Lok Sabha polls, the EC is tallying the vote count on Electronic Voting Machines with voter verified paper audit trail slips in five polling stations in each assembly segment of a parliamentary constituency. It will effectively mean that out of nearly 10.3 lakh polling stations, the EVM-VVPAT matching will take place in 20,600 such stations.
In case of a mismatch, the results based on paper slip count will be considered as final.
Out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, elections were held in 542 constituencies as the EC had cancelled polls to the Vellore constituency on the ground of excessive use of money power.
Victory of democracy: Modi
Monitor News Desk
New Delhi, May 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the people over the BJP’s landslide win in the national elections today, saying it was a victory of “democracy”. On the occasion, he also made three promises to the people – never to do anything with “ill intention”, “never do anything to make a personal fortune” and “every pore, every cell in my body will work non-stop to ensure that the country keeps moving forward”.
The BJP’s performance has exceeded its tally of 2014 today, crossing the 300-mark just three hours into counting. Overall, the NDA has won or is leading in nearly 350 seats – the counting is still on. In 2014, the party won 282 seats, the NDA had won 336. It was the first time in more than three decades that a single party won majority on its own.
The party’s victory, the Prime Minister said, has created a new narrative. “All parties have to introspect” he said.
Targeting the caste-based politics practised in large swathes of the country, he said, “There are only two castes left. These are… the poor. The second – those who remove poverty”.
Uttar Pradesh — the state where caste has been a key component in politics for decades — has given a huge mandate to the BJP for the second time in a row.
In 2014, the BJP and its ally Apna Dal had won 73 of the 80 seats in the state. This time, in face of a challenge from the Grand Alliance of Mayawati and Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav, the BJP has won or is leading in 61 seats.
The alliance, which has a huge support base among the scheduled castes, backward castes and the Muslims, are likely to get less than 20 seats.
“We had gone to the people to know about their decisions… today, crores of people have filled this fakir ki jholi (poor man’s bag)… this is democracy’s biggest incident,” PM Modi said, addressing hundreds of workers at the party headquarters in Delhi.
Defeated Rahul mulls resign?
New Delhi, May 23: Conceding defeat, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Thursday congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP for their landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls, and said his party will continue to fight the ideological battle with the saffron party.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, he said the Congress Working Committee will meet soon and decide on whether he should resign as party chief following the electoral debacle
The Congress could manage to add only a few seats to its 2014 Lok Sabha tally of 44 seats.
“I congratulate Narendra Modiji and BJP for their electoral victory. People of India have decided that Narendra Modi will be the PM again and I fully respect that,” Gandhi said.
“The Congress will continue to fight its ideological battle with BJP unitedly,” he added, asking the party workers not be afraid.
Gandhi also congratulated Smriti Irani on her victory in Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh from where he had won for three consecutive terms since 2004. (PTI)
Narendra Modi: Thank you India! The faith placed in our alliance is humbling and gives us strength to work even harder to fulfil people’s aspirations.
Benjamin Netanyahu: Congratulations, my friend @Narendramodi, on your impressive election victory! The election results further reaffirm your leadership of the world’s largest democracy. Together we will continue to strengthen the great friendship between India & Israel. Well done, my friend!
Rahul Gandhi: I accept the verdict of the people of India. Congratulations to the winners, Mr Modi & the NDA.
Mamata Banerjee: Congratulations to the winners. But all losers are not losers. We have to do a complete review and then we will share our views with you all. Let the counting process be completed fully and the VVPATs matched
Imran Khan: I congratulate Prime Minister Modi on the electoral victory of BJP and allies. Look forward to working with him for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia
Arvind Kejriwal: I congratulate Sh Narendra Modi for this historic win and look forward to working together for the betterment of the people of Delhi.
Amit Shah: This win is a victory for the whole of India. The youth of the country is a triumph of the hopes of the poor, the farmer. This grand victory is a triumph of public confidence in Prime Minister Modi Ji’s five-year development and strong leadership.
Omar Abdullah: Congratulate the BJP & NDA for a stellar performance. Credit where credit is due PM Modi Sahib & Mr Amit Shah put together a winning alliance & a very professional campaign. Bring on the next five years.
Mehbooba Mufti: Congratulations to Narendra Modi ji for a historic mandate. Today surely belongs to BJP and its allies. Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah.
Shah Faesal: Congratulations to @narendramodi @BJP4India for the landslide win. The mandate must be respected. We in J&K are hopeful that tempers will be allowed to calm down.
Valley dumps PDP, NC back in business, BJP retains turf
Srinagar, May 23: On the day Modi wave swept the entire country, National Conference retained its core support base and won all the three seats from the Kashmir Valley while Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP faced drubbing across Kashmir including in their own backyard.
BJP, on the other hand, retained Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh seats.
National Conference (NC) President Farooq Abdullah, party leaders Mohammad Akbar Lone and retired High Court Judge Justice Hasnain Masoodi won from Srinagar, Baramulla, and Anantnag Parliamentary constituencies respectively.
Farooq maintained healthy lead since morning when the counting started at Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre. Farooq got 106427 votes with a voter percentage of 57.13 out of 186832 votes polled. His main rival PDP’s Aga Syed Mohsin and Peoples Conference candidate Irfan Raza Ansari polled 36609 and 28668 votes respectively. Srinagar constituency registered 14.1 per cent polling in the elections.
This is Farooq’s fourth win in Lok Sabha elections. National Conference president, who has been three time chief minister, has lost only one election in his 49-year long political career.
Farooq was first elected as a member of Lok Sabha in 1980. However, he returned to state politics in the wake of failing health of his father and National Conference leader Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah in 1981.
Farooq succeeded Sheikh as chief minister in September 1982 following latter’s death. He won 2009 Lok Sabha polls and became the union minister in UPA government. He however suffered the first ever defeat in 2014 when he lost to the then PDP’s candidate Tariq Hamid Karra.
Farooq made a comeback when he won the 2017 by-polls after Karra resigned from the PDP and Lok Sabha in 2016.
NC’s Mohammad Akbar Lone emerged winner from the Baramulla Lok Sabha seat. He got 131869 votes while his nearest rival Peoples Conference candidate Raja Aijaz Ali baged 102212 votes. The biggest surprise of the elections was that Independent candidate and former MLA Langate Engineer Rashid stood third with 100042 votes. PDP’s Abdul Qayoom Wani was distant fourth with 52766 votes.
Compared to Srinagar and Anantnag constituencies, turnout was slightly better in Baramulla constituency where 34.61 percent electorate cast their ballot. Around 447019 voters had cast their vote in Baramulla constituency.
Lone was higher education minister in the Omar Abdullah’s government. Earlier he also served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
From restive Anantnag constituency, retired High Court Judge Justice Hasnain Masoodi emerged as a winner. He defeated his nearest rival and Congress chief GA Mir. PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti stood third.
Masoodi got 39898 votes while Mir and Mehbooba got 32534 and 30068 votes respectively. Around 122898 votes were polled in Anantnag constituency. It was Mehbooba’s first defeat from south Kashmir, which was considered the bastion of the PDP.
Meanwhile, Union Minister in PMO, Jitendra Singh sealed victory in Udhampur over Congress candidate Vikramaditya Singh after he secured 711199 votes to take a massive lead over his rival who got 365443votes. This is second Jitendra Singh’s consecutive win from Udhampur.
In the Jammu Lok Sabha seat, BJP candidate Jugal Kishore romped home with 830861votes while his Congress rival Raman Bhalla got 546403 votes.
BJP also managed to win the lone seat in Ladakh. Its candidate Jamyang Tsering Namgyal secured 38338 votes against 29004 of independent candidate Sajjad Hussain who was supported by NC and the PDP. The Congress which contested five seats in Jammu and Kashmir couldn’t win a single seat.
BJP state general secretary, Ashok Kaul said that they had already predicted that party will win three seats in the state.
“People of the state have reposed faith on us. We are hopeful that in assembly elections the party will do well,” he said adding that time will also come when people in the Valley will also help BJP to win seats.
Mehbooba tastes second defeat in her 23-yr old political career
Srinagar, May 23: The 2016 unrest seems to have returned to haunt former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti who tasted first ever defeat from her pocket borough of south Kashmir.
Hailing from Anantnag’s Bijbehara area, Mehbooba was contesting against National Conference candidate Justice Hasnain Masoodi and Congress leader GA Mir.
What was surprising that she not only lost to Masoodi, who was making his political debut but she stood third in the contest. PDP had won Anantnag parliamentary seat in 2014. Later that year the party won 11 of 16 assembly segments of south Kashmir.
Anantnag recorded a low overall turnout of just 8.76% in 2019 polls. Mehbooba polled 30068 votes while Masoodi and Mir got 39898 and 32534 votes respectively.
The PDP chief won the Anantnag seat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when she defeated the then NC candidate Mehboob Beg, who later switched sides and joined the PDP.
The seat fell vacant in June 2016 after Mehbooba resigned, when she became the chief minister. She later won the Anantnag assembly seat which had fallen vacant after the demise of her father and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
“I’ve been fortunate to get the love &affection of my people. They have every right to express their anger for my failings. Accept their verdict with humility. Congratulations to winning candidates from NC. I’m grateful to my party workers and colleagues”, Mehbooba tweeted after her defeat
“Leaving behind the bitterness of the campaign Mehbooba also reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi when she congratulated him for the victory. “Congratulations to Narendra Modi ji for a historic mandate. Today surely belongs to BJP and its allies. Time for Congress to get an Amit Shah”, she said in another tweet.
This is the second electoral defeat of Mehbooba since she joined politics in 1996. She had earlier lost the 1999 Lok Sabha polls from Srinagar to the NC’s Omar Abdullah.
Mehbooba made her maiden entry to the Parliament in 2004, by defeating National Conference candidate Mehboob Beg by more than 38,000 votes from Anantnag constituency.
Historically, no political party or leader has got the consecutive second term in the south Kashmir parliamentary seat. In 1989 parliamentary polls, PL Handoo of National Conference emerged winner from the Anantnag Lok Sabha seat.
Though, the parliamentary polls were again held in 1991 in the country, the elections could not take place in Kashmir due to volatile situation. This had prompted the Centre to promulgate an ordinance to defer elections for the seat.
In 1996 polls, the Janata Dal candidate Muhammad Maqbool Dar emerged winner from this Lok Sabha constituency. Mufti Muhammad Sayeed won the south Kashmir Parliamentary seat in 1998 on the Congress ticket.
In 1999, the Lok Sabha seat of south Kashmir was won by the National Conference candidate Ali Muhammad Naik. The elections were conducted against the backdrop of than National Conference leader Saifuddin Soz, who voted in defiance of the party whip against the BJP-led coalition government during the confidence motion in Lok Sabha. He later joined the Congress party.