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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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