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Kashmir leaders request people to end protests over rape of 3-year-old girl as it may trigger Shia-Sunni tension

Top religious clerics have appealed people to not look at the rape through Shia-Sunni prism

Following the widespread protests in Jammu and Kashmir over the rape of a three-year-old girl on 9th May, the Shia-Sunni Coordination Committee (SSCC) has called for an immediate end of protests to prevent Shia-Sunni tensions. This was done fearing that the protests may turn into communal tension as the victim and accused belong to the two different sects of Islam.

The toddler girl was allegedly raped in Sumbal area of Bandipora district in north Kashmir on May 9 just before Iftar. The child was lured with candy by the accused, then she was abducted to a nearby school and raped. The police have already arrested the accused, who is identified as Tahir Ahmad Mir. But protests erupted after the principal of a local school issued a certificate showing the accused as minor. The protesters also alleged that police were trying to protect Mir by declaring him a minor. A certificate showing the age of the accuse was also being circulated on social media, but police have confirmed that it is fake.

However, the family of accused has denied the charges, saying Mir is framed due to a property dispute between the two families, who belong to two different sects of Muslims.

Anjuman-e-Itehadul Muslimeen, a religio-political organisation of the Shia community in Kashmir valley had called for a bandh in the state on Monday, which saw violence in many places. The protestors clashed with police during the bandh, and many people were injured in the violence, including police personnel.

As the victim and accused belong to different sects, Shina and Sunni, the protests against the rape have the potential to snowball into communal tension. Anticipating such a scenario, members of the Shia-Sunni Coordination Committee urged people to maintain calm and hold back the protests. In a crucial meeting called by the committee held on Tuesday, clerics, civil society activists and trade leader leaders participated. The coordination committee adopted a five-point resolution asking people to maintain peace and brotherhood, and appealed to hold the protests, strikes and shutdowns till police complete its probe.

“We urge people of Kashmir to call off the protests and to wait till police complete its investigations into the gruesome incident that has left Kashmir in a deep shock and pain,” the resolution passed by the SSCC meeting said.

The resolution also said that the administration should complete the probe on a fast-track basis and punish the guilty at the earliest. “We urge state administration to conduct the probe into the brutal rape of three-year-old on fast track basis and to ensure exemplary punishment is given to the culprit involved in the crime,” the resolution said.

The SSCC meeting was conducted after the Deputy Commissioner of Budgam Dr Syed Sehrish Asgar and SP Amod Ashok Nagpur held a meeting with the committee on Monday in the backdrop of protests in the area following the incident. The DC had urged everyone to maintain peace, and had cautioned the members of the committee against any attempt to give it sectarian angle.

Top Shia cleric and Peoples Conference general secretary Molvi Imran Ansari has also appealed people to not give the incident a communal colour. He said that some people are looking at the Bandipora rape case through the prism of Shia-Sunni conflict, but this is an inhumane and barbaric act which should be condemned by all. He also urged the people from both the communities to maintain calm.

Senior Shia leader Aga Syed Hasan Almosvi Alsafvi requested people to not create a Shia-Sunni conflict over the rape case. He said, “there are elements who are keen to see sectarian divide but we should remain watchful and defeat their designs.” He pointed out that Sunni Muslims are also protesting against the heinous crime, and nobody supports the accused. He asked people to bring moral order to the society and appealed to sabotage the designs of those who want to create sectarian differences for their benefits.

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