A 23-year-old man was arrested and booked by the police on Monday for allegedly raping a minor girl in a peripheral village of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) capital, Muzaffarabad.
The alleged rape occurred in Majhotar Kelgran village in the jurisdiction of Panjgran police station on Friday evening shortly after the 12-year-old victim had entered her family's byre to tether a goat, said Station House Officer (SHO) Mir Muzammil.
Panjgran is located around 35 kilometres northeast of Muzaffarabad along the main Neelum valley road on the left bank of River Neelum, while Majhotar Kelgran village is located across the river.
The SHO said that the suspect, who lived next door to the victim’s house, followed the victim into the byre and raped her there.
The victim, according to her statement to the police, resisted and shouted but there was no one to rescue her, as her mother was not at home at the time.
The suspect threatened to kill her if she narrated the incident to anyone, the SHO said, quoting her statement.
According to SHO Muzammil, on seeing the victim in pain the following evening, her mother inquired the reason and came to know about her ordeal.
“They are a very poor family. The victim’s father is doing some odd job in Karachi and her elder teenaged brother studies in a college in Muzaffarabad,” the SHO said.
“Perhaps they were [initially] reluctant to visit a police station but did it on Monday on the insistence or suggestion of some people from their biradri (clan) or village … I consoled and assured them that police would do their best to dispense justice to them,” he added.
The SHO said the suspect was arrested from his village after police recorded the statement(s) of the victim and her mother.
“The suspect, on coming to know about the police raid, went into hiding and his family also tried to resist his arrest but we got hold of him,” he said.
On Monday afternoon, police official Chanzeb Kiani brought the victim to Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan Hospital Muzaffarabad for medical examination which, according to a provisional report, established that she had been sexually assaulted.
“She is in severe pain,” Kiani told Dawn from the hospital.
SHO Muzammil said the suspect, who had quit school in grade V, had memorised the Holy Quran from a seminary in Bahria Town Islamabad and was acquiring religious education from a seminary in Karachi for the past six years.
He had come home around two months ago and was attending to his father’s small shop alongside their home.
The SHO said although the suspect had denied having committed any such offence, preliminary grilling substantiated that he was foreswearing.
He added that the police had registered an FIR against him on the basis of the provisional medical report.
“We have booked him under Section 10(2) of the Zina Act and Section 452 of the Criminal Procedure Code and will produce him before a judicial magistrate on Tuesday for his physical remand,” he said.