Rape of 3 year-old roils Valley, arrested man’s family leaves village

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Srinagar: The three-year-old child lies shivering under the folds of a faded blue blanket draped over her. Eyes half-open, she yelps in pain as she moves in her sleep. Sitting beside her, the mother is inconsolable, her headscarf soaked in tears.

The mother straightens out the blankets over the child, wipes her face again and says, “I found her lying on the bathroom floor. Her clothes had been peeled off her, but not torn,” she says. “She has been sleeping most of the time but I can feel how much pain she is in. She doesn’t even understand what has happened.”

The family does not have a house: a tin and wood shed is all they have for a home in a North Kashmir village. The child was allegedly raped last Wednesday and the incident has sparked widespread outrage and protests across the Valley since Sunday. The J&K Police has already arrested the accused.

The protesters, who have clashed with police and other security personnel in different parts of the Valley, have demanded capital punishment for the culprit. So far, the clashes have left several injured.

A narrow stretch of dirt road lead down from the tin shed where the family lives to the toilet blocks of the local school, roughly 25 feet from the child’s home.

The mother found her daughter there on May 8. “I finished the evening prayers as the mosque announced iftaar, I started looking for her outside the house and after a while, heard her calling out in a weak voice. I pushed open the bathroom door and saw her on the floor with blood on her clothes,” her mother said breaking down.

Unable to continue, her aunt narrates the events of the evening. The three-year-old’s paternal uncle lives a short walk away from her parents’ tin shed. On May 8, the aunt said, “Her uncle walked her back to her house and dropped her right outside the door. She got busy playing and he left for his own house as prayer time was approaching.”

At this point, according to the family, the accused spotted her and bought her chewing gum from a make-shift shop just outside her house. “He took her down to the school’s toilet block and pushed her inside before locking the door.” Her mother has no sense of how long she lay there.

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