CBI special judge, Vimal Kumar, on Thursday acquitted five persons, including kingpin of the Jammu and Kashmir sex scam, Sabeena, as the three victims of sexual exploitation had turned hostile facilitating the acquittal of the accused.
Those acquitted are Sabeena and her husband Abdul Hamid, accused of running a brothel, along with accused Hilal Ahmed Shah alias Aijaz, Absar Ahmed Dar and Aijaz Ahmed Bhat, who are accused of sexually exploiting the victims.
The CBI's case against the accused fell flat after the three alleged victims of sexual exploitation turned hostile, thus the court acquitted the accused giving them the benefit of doubt.
The victims, giving a major blow to the prosecution, had taken a U-turn and had denied knowing Sabeena or having been forced into prostitution. These victims had even denied being exploited by the accused.
The victims had gone back on the statement given to the investigating agency, the CBI, alleging that they were sexually exploited by the accused and Sabeena had forced them into prostitution. The victims had claimed that they were in need of money and were facing financial crisis, when they had come in contact with Sabeena who had forced them into prostitution.
All these victims, during the course of investigation, had claimed that Sabeena ran a flesh trade racket and supplied girls to the accused. The victims had accused Sabeena and husband Abdul Hamid of living on the earnings of prostitution. To corroborate their claims, the victims had stated before the investigating agency that Sabeena used to earn about Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,500 daily from the accused and after retaining her commission used to pay the victims.
But during the trial all the victims retracted from their statements and claimed to have been forced to sign on blank papers.
The sex scandal had hit the headlines after a pornographic MMS was circulated in Jammu and Kashmir. Police filed a case and started investigation that allegedly revealed that Sabeena was supplying girls to officials in the state. One of the alleged victims was a minor. Later, the case was handed over to the CBI.
The scandal shook Jammu and Kashmir and made lawyers there not to appear in defence of the accused. The case was transferred to Chandigarh in 2006 by the apex court.
The accused in the sex case included former J&K minister Ghulam Ahmed Hassan Mir, independent MLA and former minister Raman Mattoo, BSF DIG KC Padhi, former J&K additional advocate general Anil Sethi, DSP Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Iqbal Khandey, hotel owner Riyaz Ahmed Kawa, Sabeena, husband Abdul Hamid, Shabir Langoo, alleged middlemen Shabir Ahmed Laway alias Shabir Kala, Mehrajuddin Malik, Masood Ahmed, Mohammad Yusuf Mir and Abdul Hamid Bullah.
The CBI had filed separate chargesheets against accused Hilal Ahmed Shah alias Aijaz, Absar Ahmed Dar and Aijaz Ahmed Bhat.
The CBI had listed about 100 witnesses. It was for the first time that the chargesheet in the case was filed in a coded form. After charges were framed and statements of the prime witnesses and victims were recorded, the chargesheet was decoded as per the orders of the Punjab and Haryana high court.
Acquitted under PITA
In September last year, the court had already acquitted Jammu and Kashmir principal secretary Iqbal Khandey (under suspension), sitting MLA and ex-minister Ghulam Ahmed Mir and former minister Raman Mattoo along with Sabeena and Abdul Hamid after the central agency failed to prove charges against them under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA). The accused, facing trial under Section 5 of PITA on charge of exploitation of women by promising them jobs, were acquitted after the alleged victims retracted from their earlier statements.
3 cases pending against Sabeena, husband
Three cases are still pending against Sabeena and Abdul Hamid. The other accused who are still facing the trials are the then BSF DIG KC Padhi, former J&K additional advocate general Anil Sethi, then DSP Mohammad Ashraf Mir, hotel owner Riyaz Ahmed Kawa along with Sabeena and her husband.