Protests in Kashmir after minor’s alleged rape by neighbour

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Indian-controlled Kashmir to protest the alleged rape of a 3-year-old girl by a neighbour who lured her to a school bathroom, escalating into intense clashes between protesters and government forces.

Police sources said a preliminary medical examination of the accused, Tahir Ahmad Mir, had revealed that he was not a minor and could be around 20.

Top local administrator Baseer Khan said on Monday that police arrested the suspect in a village in Sumbal town and a fast-track inquiry is under way.

On Monday, allegations emerged that the principal of another school issued a certificate for the accused that he was a minor, sparking anger and triggering protests across the Kashmir valley. The authorities appealed to the people not to give the criminal act a sectarian colour, even as incidents of violence and stone pelting were reported in localities dominated by one sect of Muslims. Students from different colleges staged protests, demanding capital punishment to the culprit.

Furious protesters marched with playcards, shouted "Girls are not toys" and "We want justice".

"Had the government delivered justice in previous rape cases, we wouldn't have witnessed this gruesome crime".

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A police official said the police station in Ganderbal received a complaint from a family that their teenage daughter was raped by a youth on May 12.

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.

A partial shutdown was observed across Kashmir against the crime. Shops and business establishments were closed while traffic movement was substantial reduced. At places, the protests turned violent with many people injured, some of them critically.

The governor has assured the people that the administration is taking all step for maintaining public order and anybody having any grievance or apprehension should contact the police control room or the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir's office, the spokesman said.

The perpetrator was caught red-handed and was immediately arrested by the police, Rahul Malik, superintendent of police, Bandipora, told the media.

The protesters said the suspect is at least 20 and worked in a motor fix workshop.

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