J-K sex scandal: Poverty drove minor into flesh trade, says CBI
Poverty forced the minor victim of Jammu and Kashmir sex scandal into prostitution, prosecution told the CBI court. CBI prosecutor KP Singh said in the court that the victim who is now in her 20s was forced into sexual intercourse with the accused.
Victim’s father was a daily wager and her mother was a house help at brothel owner Sabeena’s home, the then
15-year-old victim fell in the trap of prostitution racket which was being run in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, CBI prosecutor KP Singh told the court.
The victim was eldest child among her parents’ four children. Prosecutrix questioned as to why she used to get Rs 250 to Rs 500 only from the client.
The CBI investigation had revealed that when prosecutrix asked Sabeena, the main accused, as to why the victim was being paid so less, the accused told that only during the first sexual intercourse she was to be paid Rs 500, after which, it was bound to reduce.
The victim’s repeated references to returning home from the brothel/hotels/guest houses on foot or auto-rickshaws further reiterated her poor background.
“The sheer helplessness of the victim became more and more evident during the trial of the case, especially when she recorded her statement before the court,” said KP Singh.
In fact, in an ironical turn of events, the victim’s mother had stepped in the witness box from the defence side, despite having been one of the prosecution witnesses. Sources in the CBI believe it was a financial settlement made outside the court thereby confirming the poverty angle.
It was in 2003, when the minor was a Class-7 student and was approached by a person who introduced her to Sabeena, residing in the same locality as hers in Srinagar. The girl after being served tea allegedly was taken to a room in Sabeena’s house. Shew was made to drink juice mixed with certain tablets. This was the first time when she was made to have sexual intercourse with a 35-year-old man, as per the evidence presented in the court.
It is learnt that the victim saw three or four other girls also coming to the brothel everyday, who were also made the CBI witnesses, however, they turned hostile during the trial.
In her statement, the prosecutrix claimed that many of the accused, including BSF DIG, wanted to marry her but she refused. Some of them even made video clippings of the sexual act and when she protested, they allegedly threatened her not to disclose it to anyone.
The defence had even argued that the accused had been falsely implicated since they were well known, high profile personalities and ‘the face of India in Jammu and Kashmir’. However, the CBI argued that if these accused were the face of Indian democracy in Jammu and Kashmir, “we do not want this face of India”.
A long haul for a case that shook Jammu and Kashmir
Twelve years after a sex CD involving a 15-year-old unearthed a flesh trade racket in J & K, implicating a host of state’s politicians, bureaucrats, and senior cops, a special court in Chandigarh concluded the trial on Wednesday. HT rewinds on the sex scandal that had rocked the border state.
How the scandal was unearthed
The scandal broke in the summer of 2006 after a pornographic CD was handed over to the police. The police questioned two girls and the alleged kingpin, Sabeena. After grilling them, they discovered the names of 56 people allegedly involved in the racket.
According to the CBI chargesheet, some men from one of the girl’s mohalla received the three CDs containing obscene images and videos of the girl. A Class VII student of a school in Srinagar, the 15-year-old girl was forced into prostitution by Sabeena and her husband, Abdul Hamid Bullah, when she went to them to seek monetary help for her family. The duo, who ran a brothel, allegedly began to supply the girl to various officials. Sabeena and her husband were subsequently booked for running a brothel, and living on the earnings of prostitution. The couple, however, died of natural causes during the pendency of the case. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had even ordered that the persons named by the prosecutrix be subjected to Test Identification Parade (TIP) before a judicial magistrate.
How the matter reached CBI?
The then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ghulam Nabi Azad, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the matter following a letter by his deputy Muzaffar Hussain Beig.
The CBI arrested two former J-K ministers, Ghulam Ahmed Mir and Raman Mattoo, for their alleged involvement in the case. Former J&K additional advocate general Anil Sethi was also arrested in the case soon afterwards.
By June end that year, CBI filed the first chargesheet against nine people. Among them were Border Security Force (BSF) DIG S.K. Padhi and deputy superintendent of police Mohammad Ashraf Mir. One of the senior most IAS officers in the state, Iqbal Khanday, who was principal secretary to former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, was also arrested.
Twists and turns
During the trial, charges were framed against 14 accused and the Supreme Court transferred the case to Chandigarh the same year.
The accused were charged under Sections 376 (rape) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and 5 of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, among other charges. The alleged kingpin Sabeena and her husband Abdul Hamid Bullah were also charged with criminal conspiracy.
However, as the case progressed, most of the accused were acquitted for lack of evidence. In addition, several witnesses also turned hostile.
Six more people acquitted between 2012 and 2913 in the supplementary challan included Muhammad Iqbal Khandey, former chief secretary; Raman Mattu,former minister; Absar Ahmed Dar, a police official; Hilal Ahmed Shah and Ghulam Ahmed Mir.