Srinagar, May 18: There may be a hue and cry over the Sumbal ‘rape’ case now but a look at the last six years data shows that majority of the rape victims are eventually caught in the rigmarole of long legal battles that take years to reach to a point where the culprits are punished and justice delivered.
Official data until March 2019 shows that 1,046 rape cases in Jammu and Kashmir are under trial with 831 of them pending since at least 2014.
The conviction rate in the last six years, the data shows, is as low as 5%.
Ironically, 822 of these undertrial cases involve victims which are minors.
The year-wise data and pendency, a copy of which is with The Kashmir Monitor, was compiled by the State’s Crime Branch.
Data shows that alone in the first three months of 2019, 64 cases of rape were registered in the state of which 33 had minors as victims of the heinous crime.
The year had already begun with a backlog of 198 rape cases under-investigation from 2018 and a long undertrial backlog of 1069 cases that had accumulated during the last at least six years. The figure rose to 1099 as 30 cases from the first three months of this year were sent for trial.
In 46 of these 1099 cases, the accused were acquitted or the case itself discharged, while in seven, the accused were convicted thus leaving a final undertrial figure of 1046 cases.
A look at the year-wise data shows how the crimes against females are now becoming a norm rather than being an exception in J&K, usually viewed through the prism of a morally upright society.
In 2014, 352 cases, 265 of which involved minors, were registered. In years 2015, 16 and 17, the 312 (251 minors), 263 (204 minors), and 314 (213 minors) cases were respectively registered.
The number of rape cases registered during the 2018 was 359 of which 273 had victims as minors.
The horrid picture presented by the data is an alarm bell telling that the state needs some immediate measures to fix this growing menace.
A case in point to understand the long wait for justice is the 2005 rape-and-murder of a six-year-old girl by a 40-year-old man in Srinagar.
The trial went on for 12 years even as the investigation revealed that the man had lured the child, raped her, smothered her to death and then dumped her body in a trench close to her home.
In 2017, the man was sentenced to death. During this period he had enjoyed more the six years of interim bail between August 2010 and November 2017. During these years, the culprit was found regularly absent from the trial. He was finally convicted on the penultimate day of 2017.
But the sentence has not been carried out yet as the death penalty given by the Additional Sessions Judge Srinagar is awaiting the High Court nod.
In other words, justice to the family of the six-year-old has been incomplete for the last 14 years.
Ask the legal experts about the inordinate delay in such sensitive cases and they have the stock answers ready.
“The main reason behind the pending under trial cases of sexual harassment is that Kashmir has a scarcity of judges. There is extremely limited number of judges to deal with such cases,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Dar, criminal Lawyer at High Court.
Dar said that a single judge has to see thousands of cases and it is not possible for him to do justice with his job.
“The witnesses are not brought on time. It is being delayed by the prosecution in getting the witnesses. In many cases witnesses do not come forward or are withheld for some vested interest or accused are not brought before the court due to which the matters are delayed,” Dar said.
“In Srinagar district, there is currently one judge, special Second Additional Sessions judge who is hearing sexual harassment cases,” Dar told The Kashmir Monitor.
Militant, Army officer killed in Anantnag gunfight
Srinagar, Jun 17: An Army officer and a militant were killed and three other soldiers including a Major injured in a gunfight in south Kashmir Anantnag district on Monday, police said.
Police sources said the officer was shot at during the firing exchange between the holed-up militants and security forces in Bidoora village in Achabal area of the district.
The slain militant was believed to be a foreigner.
SSP Anantnag, Altaf Khan said that the operation was launched following specific inputs about the presence of some militants in the area.
He said that as the joint team intensified the searches, the militants, hiding in the area, opened fire which was retaliated, triggering off a gunfight.
Initially, sources said, the joint team of forces and militants exchanged gunfire for some time during which the house, in which the militants were hiding, was damaged. Later there was a lull for about an hour even as Army rushed more reinforcements and the joint team started searches to find out the militants.
Soon the militants rose from the debris and opened indiscriminate fire on the forces, resulting in the on-spot death of Major Keetan Sharma and injuries to three others including another Army Major Rahul Verma, sources said.
They added the joint team of forces retailed the fire, leading to the fresh gunfight in an open field. While one militant was killed and the search operation is underway to find if there is any more militant hiding in the area.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is being ascertained, sources said.
Meanwhile, youth took to streets and pelted stones at the security forces. The police and paramilitary CRPF deployed in the area used tear smoke shells and pellets to disperse them.
In wake of the operation, the authorities snapped internet service in the southern district.
IED blast in Pulwama, 6 soldiers, 2 civilians injured
Srinagar, Jun 17: Militants on Monday attempted to blow off an Army vehicle in a village in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
A police official said that an armoured vehicle of Army came under an IED attack in Hargam Arihal village of Pulwama. He added that after the blast militants also fired some gunshots towards the vehicle.
Local residents informed that they heard huge blast followed by gunshots.
Reports said that six soldiers and two civilians were injured in the blast. The soldiers were shifted to Army’s 92 base hospital at Badamibagh, Srinagar for treatment.
The area was soon cordoned off, officials said.
Earlier, reports said that militants exploded an IED under a Casper vehicle, extensively damaging it, as an army convoy passed through Arihal. However, the army clarified that the damaged vehicle was not a Casper, but an Ashok Leyland Stallion truck.
Three of them who were travelling in the cabin of the vehicle are stated to be serious, the news agency reported.
The blast was triggered by militants using a car laden with explosives, GNS reported attributing the same to “initial investigations by police.”
“A police officer that the explosives were fitted inside a car and investigators are probing the owner of the vehicle. Asked, which type of vehicle was used, the officer said that it is a matter of investigation,” the news agency reported.
“Samples have been collected and further probe is underway,” the officer was quoted saying.
In a statement, the Army called the attack a “failed attempt” by militants. The troops are safe, barring a few minor injuries, it said, adding, “The area has been cordoned and search operations are in progress”.
The blast comes days after Pakistan had reportedly shared information with India and America regarding the possibility of major militant attack in the south Kashmir district. (With inputs from GNS)
Emotional scenes at slain SHO’s wreath-laying ceremony
Srinagar, Jun 17: Emotional scenes were Monday witnessed at District Police Lines (DPL) Srinagar as top cops and bureaucrats attended the wreath-laying ceremony of the slain police officer Arshad Khan, who had sustained critical injuries in a militant attack in Anantnag last week and later succumbed to his injuries at AIIMS, Delhi on Sunday.
J&K Police chief Dilbagh Singh, Advisors to Governor K Vijay Kumar and KK Sharma, Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmed Khan, ADGP Muneer Khan, and SSP Srinagar Dr Haseeb Mughal, among other civil and police officers were present on the occasion.
J&K Police shared two heart wrenching photos of Dr Mughal carrying the deceased’s son in his arms during the wreath-laying ceremony.
In the photos, a teary-eyed Haseeb is seen carrying slain Arshad Khan’s son while paying tributes to his colleague.
On the occasion, Advisor Kumar said that more than 1600 J&K Police personnel have lost their lives in the line of duty.
On June 12, around 4:50 pm, five paramilitary troopers and a militant were killed and four other security forces personnel including Arshad sustained injuries after militants attacked a joint party of CRPF and police at bus stand Anantnag.
Arshad was immediately evacuated to a nearby hospital and then to Srinagar’ SK Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura. After being treated there for a few days, he was flown to Delhi’s AIIMS hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.
According to police, Arshad was inducted into police services in the year 2002 and was presently posted as SHO Anantnag. Khan is survived by father and mother, wife Neelofar, 5-year-old son Abuhan Khan, Danim 2, and a brother.
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