//Kashmir villagers lock up soldier

Kashmir villagers lock up soldier

May 27, 2006

Srinagar: Police detained an Army soldier after thousands of people locked him up and angrily protested in Singhpura village in Baramulla, alleging he had raped a minor girl returning home from school on Saturday, an officer said.

Protesters of Singhpura village blocked traffic on Srinagar-Baramulla National Highway and raised slogans against the Army.

Police officials had to persuade the villagers for hours before they agreed to release the soldier. Officials promised an investigation after the alleged assault in Singhpura, 25km north of Srinagar.

"The villagers have alleged misconduct by a soldier. The man has been detained by the police and an investigation has started," Superintendent of Police Junaid Ahmed said. The Army spokesperson declined to comment.

A relative and neighbour of the 11-year-old girl studying in the sixth standard said that she was returning home with her classmates on Saturday afternoon when she was accosted by soldiers and was raped by one of them.

The girl has been sent for medical examination and police while civil administration officials have rushed to the spot to bring the situation under control.

The latest allegations came just two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a candid admission on a visit to Kashmir that some human rights abuses by security forces do occur, and promised "zero tolerance" against them.

In Singhpura, relatives alleged that some soldiers were hiding in a farm field as they waited for the girls to return from school and accosted the alleged victim, while the others ran to the village to inform residents.

Villagers came running, caught the soldier and locked him up in a room, the relative said.