Indian Major In Rape Court-martial
20 December 2004
Srinagar: Court-martial proceedings have begun against an Indian officer accused of raping and molesting three women in Indian-administered Kashmir last month. Major Rehman Hussain faces five charges, including the rape of a woman and molestation of her 10-year-old daughter in their own home. The incidents in the town of Handwara sparked huge protests across the Kashmir valley. The officer pleaded not guilty to all five charges. Rights protest On an application by the accused, the court gave him until 26 December to prepare his defence. The army initially dismissed the allegations against Maj Hussain but later ordered a probe. It is the first time in 15 years the army has given a court-martial such publicity. On 10 December, World Human Rights Day, more than 500 people marched through Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, some carrying pictures of the 10-year-old girl. Police fired tear-gas and baton- charged demonstrators to break up the protest. In July, thousands of people protested in Handwara against the alleged police torture of a 17-year-old schoolgirl. Batons and tear-gas were again used then to break up the demonstration.