By Fahad Shah
She is inside a double-storey mud-brick house. This house is standing on a hill, which grows corn and apples. Surrounded by forests and orchards, this house has become the center of attention for everyone. The two parallel lines of tyre marks on the unmetalled road ends here at the house of 25-year-old Ruqaiya Bano wife of Lateef Ahmad Bhat, a farmer. This area is very far away and low populated that distance between two houses is 200-300 meter; one can’t hear anything of other house. Ruqaiya is not allowed to move out. Neither any civilian nor any media person allowed going inside. In just two days this house, once live with Bhat family has become a police camp.
On reaching Gujjarduga, Manzgam, Kulgam, when this reporter arrived at this house, managing somehow by trekking the hills, a group of highly armed Jammu and Kashmir police was alert. Ruqaiya’s house is under police custody (nearly 40 policemen are around the house) since July 21, when she alleged that two army men abducted her and then raped her for two days in a nearby hut.
Ruqaiya’s brother-in-law, Ismail Bhat says that they (family) talked to Ruqaiya personally and she said that two army men abducted and then raped her. “She was near a water stream at another family Dhoka in Chiranbal- some 5-7 kilometres from here. When she started her ablution for the evening prayers, two army men pounced on her and took her away. She told us that the two men took her in hut and raped for two consecutive days one by one,” Bhat says.
When asked that some reports have come up which say that Ruqaiya is mentally unstable, Bhat replied, “No this is wrong,” a white bearded man who lives adjacent to Bhat’s and is regular to their house, added further, “She has been living here for last three years since she was married. In these three years I visited this house everyday but I never felt she is in any mental problem.”
While talking about Ruqaiya being mentally unfit, Bhat said, “she was very much healthy before this incident but now she is in trauma. That day when we found her in semi-conscious state we rushed to police station. She was not well and her statement was recorded.”
There is a video of her statement to police, on internet, in which there is no mention of army men?
“She told police that army abducted her and then raped but they didn’t video-graphed that. The video running on internet is a part of statement where she talks about that civilian. These are two separate things,” Bhat clarifies.
So the video available on the video bank YouTube is her statement but not the whole one. Ruqaiya has to recover from shock and trauma after this incident. But the heavy contingent of police around the house is making it tough for the family. As Bhat says, “If my mother would have been here she would have died due to huge presence of Fauj (Police). She is very old and we didn’t bring her here.”
Locals who were there when People’s Democratic Party, President, Mehbooba Mufti arrived here yesterday say, “Ruqaiya talked to Mehboobaji on phone. She told her that two army men raped her.”
They say she told same to Minister for Social Welfare, Sakina Itoo, who represents this area, when she arrived here today.
People of this Gujjar village are in shock. An elderly man shouted, “Till justice will not be delivered we don’t believe in any investigation.”
In response to the allegations, 15 Corps commander Lt Gen Atta Hasnain told a press conference that this is an allegation. “If there is truth in it, it is a criminal act and strict action needs to be taken,” he said.
He said, “The Army was investigating the allegation and would also cooperate with the police probe. This is not an open and shut case. However, a chink in our armour can’t be ruled out.”
An FIR No:-66/2011 under section 366,376-RPC in Police Station Damhal Hanji Pora was filed when Ruqaiya visited the police station along with her family members. A Special Investigation Team for the case has been made to investigate the allegations.
– with Haziq Qadri
Follow Fahad: @FahadShah_