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J&K: Alleged sex racket kingpin's house razed

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Last updated on: May 05, 2006 19:43 IST
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The infamous sex racket that rocked Jammu and Kashmir recently took a violent turn on Friday when an agitated mob brought down the house of the prime accused in the racket involving top politicians, bureaucrats and police officer in the state.

Nearly 2,000 people gathered outside the home of alleged kingpin Sabeena at Habbakadal in the downtown Srinagar and began tearing it down. Household items were thrown on the streets and burnt, officials said.

Massive demonstrations marked the day-long strike called by political and non-political organisations against what they called police inaction against political and police bigwigs allegedly involved in the scandal, officials added.

Most of the demonstrations staged by angry residents and separatist organizations, including Muslim League and Democratic Liberation Party ended peacefully, with people urging the government to identify those involved in the racket and to punish them, they said.

However, despite heavy police presence at Habbakadal, the mob demolished Sabeena's house without any resistance as emotions among the residents were running high, they added.

At least 35 people, including some police personnel, were injured when police fired in the air and also burst several teargas shells to disperse the violent mob.

Infuriated by allegations against Sabeena, the people have over the past week made several attempts at damaging or setting fire to the house that she had bought some time ago. Protestors have alleged that even after the passage of nearly two months since the scandal became public, police had not taken any action against persons named by the two girls who claimed to have been lured into the racket by Sabeena and some surrendered militants.

A daylong strike was called on Friday by several traders' organisations and political parties to press for action against persons named in the scandal, which allegedly includes some top politicians, police and security officers and businessmen.

Though the state government transferred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation last week, local police are still probing the matter till a team from the central agency takes over. Demonstrations were held at Lal Chowk, Residency Road, Jehangir Chowk, Nowhatta, Hazratbal, Bemina and Batmaloo in Srinagar.

Reports of peaceful demonstrations were also received from almost all the five other districts of the Kashmir Valley, officials said, adding that almost all shops and business establishments remained closed in Srinagar and other parts of the valley in response to the call for the strike, which was backed by political and social organisations including the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference.

The strike also hit work in government offices, while educational institutions, banks, courts and other establishments remained closed across the valley.

Police have so far arrested five persons, including Sabeena and two youths who allegedly produced a 30-second pornographic CD that brought the scandal to light in March. They were presented before a local court, which  on Friday extended till May 13, the police remand of Sabeena on police request. The scandal shook the state after a girl claimed that she was forced into prostitution and that some politicians and security officers were allegedly involved in the racket.

More reports from J&K

With PTI inputs

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar