Kulgam ‘rape’ threatens to push Valley to brink, gets state moving

The Jammu and Kashmir government was on tenterhooks on Friday as the alleged abduction and rape of a married woman triggered protests and threatened to push the valley to the brink of another summer of violence.

Villagers took to streets at Manzgam village in Kulgam and burnt down the vehicle of the local Tehsildar and pelted stones at the police and the Army.

Sensing the brewing anger, the government has rushed top officials to the village. Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba also visited the area and demanded a "neutral" probe by the police.

In Srinagar, 15 Corps commander Lt Gen Atta Hasnain told a press conference that the Army was investigating the allegation and would also cooperate with the police probe.

"This is an allegation. If there is truth in it, it is a criminal act and strict action needs to be taken," he said. "This is not an open and shut case. However, a chink in our armour can't be ruled out."

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to assure that those responsible would not be let off. "Guilty won't be spared, AFSPA or no AFSPA. The size of the Army unit in the area is less than 20 strong so an identification parade won't be a problem," he tweeted, adding the government would wait for the victim to identify the alleged rapists.

At Gujardara, a village tucked away in Pir Panjal mountain range of south Kashmir, the police took the victim to the place where she was allegedly raped by two "unknown" Armymen for two days, and videographed the hutment.

Police said a preliminary medical examination showed "no marks of violence or resistance on any part of her body especially on her private parts".

Villagers in this small Gujjar hamlet are in a state of shock. Since Thursday, policemen have been camping in the village and recording statements of people.

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