India

Unrest erupts over toddler's rape in Kashmir

Kashmiri student throws back a tear smoke shell at Indian police personnel during clashes in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 14 May 2019. Image copyright EPA
Image caption A student threw back a teargas canister in Srinagar

Huge protests have continued for the third day in Indian-administered Kashmir with people demanding the death penalty for a man who allegedly raped a three-year-old girl.

"The accused had tried to flee, but we caught him," the girl's father told BBC Hindi. He said the man was a neighbour and the police had arrested him.

Thousands of people took to the streets on Monday, and dozens were left injured after police used teargas on crowds.

There had been protests on Sunday too.

"We want justice and stringent punishment," the toddler's father, Shair Ali Dar, said.

Schools and colleges were closed in the Bandipore region as protests continued on Tuesday.

The Kashmir valley also came to a halt on Monday, with protesters clashing with police and paramilitary forces at several places, and schools and businesses shut across the region.

Police told local media that the accused had lured the child into a nearby school and raped her there last week.

Image copyright Getty Images

"She was screaming for her mother," Mr Dar said. "We rushed to the school and found her bleeding in the bathroom."

The incident has spurred widespread outrage as rape of minors is relatively rare in the Kashmir region.

Latest government crime figures show that two rape cases involving girls under the age of six were reported in 2016. Overall, 21 cases of rape against minors were registered in the state that year.

Protests rocked Kashmir last year over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in Kathua district.

Soon after the incident came to light, the federal government introduced the death penalty for those convicted of raping minors under the age of 12.

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