Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police has registered a criminal case against unknown people for allegedly disseminating the real name of a three-year-old minor girl ‘raped’ in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district on 8 May.
According to police, the probe will aim to nail social media accounts responsible for using real name of the victim, an act punishable by law.
“We have registered an FIR to find out the source or individuals who used real name of the victim and made it viral on social media,” said Rahul Malik, senior superintendent of police, Bandipora.
The Jammu & Kashmir High Court Friday sought to crack down on social media’s role in identifying the victim publicly, ordering websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to remove all posts that disclosed her identity. The court also issued notices to five Kashmir-based newspapers for disclosing her identity.
The directions were given by a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan.
The high court had Wednesday taken suo motu cognisance of the case and directed inspector general of police (Kashmir zone) to file a status report by Friday. The report was placed before the court in a sealed cover.
The victim’s name has become a slogan for protesters demanding capital punishment for the accused. Placards and posters asking for justice for the victim have become a common sight in Kashmir.
However, the pictures on these posters, and on several private vehicles plying in the Valley, are not of the victim.
Similar developments took place last year when an eight-year-old girl was gang-raped and murdered in Kathua.
“I don’t know how there are fake pictures of her (victim) all over the internet. I want to say we never released any photos or videos of my niece. Clearly, this is being done with an ill intention,” an uncle of the victim told ThePrint.
“Using her real name will cause hurdles in her life. She will have to live with this memory forever. Doctors have told us to try our best to make her forget this horrible thing,” he said.
“How are the people sharing her name and fake pictures helping her?”
Violence in Kashmir
The Bandipora victim’s name has been trending on social media platform Twitter as part of a hashtag that went viral this week, with some celebrities and other public figures using it to protest against the alleged rape.
The police in the Valley is looking for social media accounts that played a major role in disseminating fake news regarding the alleged rape.
A video of a grievously injured minor girl was also projected as the Bandipora victim. Police sources suggest the video is from somewhere in West Asia.
Investigators are also looking into the role of individuals for flaring sectarian passion by using the identities of the victim and the accused, both of whom belong to different sects of Islam.
On Sunday, the Jammu & Kashmir Ittehadul Muslimeen, a party belonging to the Hurriyat faction headed by separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, called for a strike across Kashmir. The following day, angry protesters attacked vehicles in several areas of north Kashmir, including the national highway.
The clashes between police and protesters have so far resulted in injuries to around 20 people, one of whom succumbed to his injuries this week.
A second strike was observed Thursday with authorities snapping high speed internet across the Valley.
This report has been updated with additional information
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.