2006 Srinagar sex abuse scandal: What happened when?

AFTER A 12-year trial, the special CBI court in Chandigarh on Wednesday held five persons — including former BSF DIG K C Padhi and former Jammu and Kashmir Police DSP Mohammad Ashraf Mir — guilty in the 2006 Srinagar sex abuse scandal.

The Case
The 12-year-old case pertains to the involvement of top police officials, bureaucrats, politicians and even surrendered militants in expolitation of minor victims. The minors who were forced into prostitution were paid between Rs 250 to Rs 500.

According to the chargesheet, there were four surviors and nine accused in the case. During the course of the trial, prime accused Sabeena and her husband Abdul Hamid Bulla died. They allegdely use to run brothel in Srinagar’s Habba Kadal.
The Code of Conduct
Keeping in view sensitive nature of the case as well as involvement of minors, the entire trial was kept in-camera and code words were used by the CBI so that the identity of the complainants and witnesses was not compromised at any cost. Three survivors turned hostile during the course of the trial and the fourth one was kept in CBI protective custody.
The Trial
The 2006 scandal had hit headlines after the J&K police discovered two video CDs showing Kashmiri minors being sexually exploited. The police questioned the minors, including the alleged kingpin, Sabeena. After questioning them, the police gathered names of 56 people allegedly involved in the scandal.

The case was transferred to the CBI in May 2006 after names of two J&K ministers, MLAs and other influential men emerged in the case. The Supreme Court shifted the trial to Chandigarh in the same year. Interestingly, name of then J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah had also surfaced in the case, which led to him tendering his resignation in July 2009. However, the J&K governor had eventually rejected his resignation.Kashmir sex scandalScandal unfolded

Two CDs rocked the nation in 2006. They showed Jammu and Kashmir’s top men, including politicians, police and even defence personnel, involved with minor girls.  Four minor victims were identified but three of them turned hostile. The lone victim stood strong for 12 years and has finally got justice.

According to the CBI, in 2003, when the victim was 13 years old and studying in Class VII, she went to Sabeena’s house to request financial assistance. Sabeena and her husband exploited the girl, making her a part of a prostitution racket. The matter came to light in January 2006, when a youth saw a video clip of the victim on his cellphone and identified her as a resident of his neighbourhood.

The victim was just 12 years old when Sabeena forced her into prostitution. Eldest of the four siblings, her father worked as a mason and her mother did embroidery work at home. As the financial conditions of the family were not good, the children were always looking for some work.

Read also: 10 Laws Against Sexual Harassment Most Women In Jammu & Kashmir Don’t Know About

In 2003, a schoolmate of the lone victim took her to Sabeena, saying that the later would offer her some work.
As per the victim’s statement in the court, Sabeena took her to the first floor of the house where a couple were indulging in sexual activities. Sabeena then took her to the kitchen and offered her juice, which she claimed was laced with sedatives. Sabeena again took her upstairs and left her in a room with a man in his mid 30s, who tried to rape her.As the victim resisted, the man called Sabeena, who told the victim to comply, as she had already taken money from the customer. Sabeena also promised her that she would not force her again. Later, the victim was given Rs 500 by Sabeena. Next week, her schoolmate again took her to Sabeena. The victim stated that she was made to have sex with a police officer. For this, Sabeena gave her Rs 250 only, despite the victim’s protest.The girl’s statement says that her mother worked as a maid at Sabeena’s house from October 2003 to September 2004. The victim’s parents were dropped as prosecution witnesses and later appeared in the court as defence witnesses, deposing against their daughter’s statement. The victim was, therefore, kept in the CBI’s protective custody without her parents. The girl’s statement goes on to tell how some accused used to be drunk and some also used to hit her. Some accused used to photograph and film her while one even asked her to marry him. The victim refused the offer and told him that she wanted to marry one of her cousins, which she eventually did.

Faced public ire, house burnt down

Disclosing the hardships she faced during the trial, the victim in her statement to the CBI court said that in 2006, when the scam broke out, the public burnt down her house for being involved in prostitution. Her family was also thrown out of the second house they moved into. Despite pressures and her own family not supporting her in the court, the victim stood by her statement against most of the accused.

Read also: Data for crimes against women In Jammu & Kashmir, a sorry picture

Ex-BSF DIG raped victim inside camp

Former BSF DIG KC Padhi, who was on Wednesday held guilty by a court, had raped the victim inside a BSF camp, as per the girl’s statement. She said Sabeena had accompanied her to the camp and the DIG had sent a car at the gate which had taken them to his house. There, she was raped by Padhi in a room while Sabeena waited outside.
(With inputs from online reports)
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