Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday sought exemplary punishment to whoever raped a minor in Bandipora district as widespread protests rocked the Kashmir Valley, shutting down businesses and educational institutions.
“Governor has expressed deep shock and pain over the extremely heinous incident of rape of a 3-year-old girl from Bandipora,” a Raj Bhawan statement said.
It said the Governor spoke to S.P. Pani, Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Kashmir, and directed him “to work swiftly in the case and ensure that the culprit gets exemplary punishment for this shameful act”.
The Governor asked religious leaders of different communities to deplore this gruesome incident and appealed to the people to remain calm and not let “anti-social elements disturb peace and harmony in the society”.
Police have lodged a FIR against the principal of a private school, who allegedly issued a fake birth certificate in favour of the accused that showed him as a minor.
Police said scientific evidence will be collected to determine the actual age of the accused and said that preliminary investigation has revealed that the accused was around 20 years old.
The incident triggered massive protests at various places in the valley forcing businesses, public transport and educational institutions to close down.
In violent clashes between protesters and the police, 20 people were injured in Badgam district.
Markets remained closed in Bandipora, Sopore, Badgam and Baramulla towns but a shutdown called by the Itihadul Muslimeen, a religious organisation, had a partial effect in Srinagar city.
People in large numbers took to the streets across the state capital and other places demanding death penalty for the man accused of raping the girl last week.
Students of Kashmir University, Central University and the Islamic University of Science and Technology boycotted classes and held protests.
Members of the High Court Bar Association stayed away from courts to express solidarity with the victim.
Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, separatist leaders as well as a number of social, religious and political groups expressed shock over the incident.
Mehbooba Mufti has said that the guilty of such a heinous crime should be stoned to death by invoking the Muslim Sharia laws.
Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) had been set up to fast-track the probe.
Senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has appealed people to maintain harmony and ensure that miscreants were prevented from stoking sectarian strife using the most incident.