SRINAGAR, MAY 25: Army Major Leetul Gogoi – who had sparked international outrage after tying a Kashmiri man to the bonnet of his jeep during last year’s elections in Budgam – was detained briefly after being held with a local girl at a hotel in Srinagar on Wednesday.
Several stories have since appeared in the press with comments from the girl’s (name withheld) mother and the police. A probe has also been ordered into the incident. Here are some of the stories you should go through.
Hotel fracas: Girl states she met Major of her ‘own will’
In the investigation into the fracas involving Major Leetul Gogoi at a hotel in Srinagar on Wednesday, the Jammu & Kashmir Police have recorded the statement of the girl who was detained with him.
The Army officer had courted controversy last year when he had made a youth in Budgam a human shield to escape stone-throwers during parliamentary bypoll.
In the statement recorded before a Magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC, which is voluntary and admissible as evidence, the girl has said that she came to the hotel “of her own free will” as she wanted to spend time with the Army officer who was “already known” to her, highly placed sources told The Tribune.
“Mein yahan apni marzi say aaye houn (I have come here (to the hotel) of my own free will,” she told the Magistrate while recording her statement in the presence of a Sub-Divisional Magistrate and a DSP-rank official and Superintendent of Police (North), who is heading the probe, said sources privy to the proceedings.
During the recording of her statement, it also came to the fore that the girl (name withheld) is a major. She showed the magistrate her Aadhaar card, which mentioned her year of birth as 1999, the sources said. Whether she is really a major, however, still is a subject of inquiry as it needs to be corroborated from other sources.
“While showing her documents that indicated that she was a major, she stated that she was there out of her own ‘marzi’ (free will),” said an official, who was present during recording of the statement.
The woman hailing from Budgam district said she and Major Gogoi “knew each other” and she had met him on “several occasions on outings” in the past, the sources said.
When cross-examined, she claimed before the Magistrate that she first came in contact with the Major through a Facebook account named “Aadil Adnan”, the sources said.
She said that just within a month she came to know that Aadil Adnan was none other than Major Gogoi, who had faked his real identity. She told the Magistrate that thereafter Major Gogoi himself “disclosed his real identity” to her and thereafter they became friends.
When asked why did she come to Srinagar and then to the hotel, she said: “Bus chakra vakrah karnih (just to have fun),” the sources said.
When asked about the second Army man, the driver Sameer Ahmad who also hails from Budgam district, the girl told the magistrate that “he was known to her.” But when confronted by the Magistrate about Sameer’s family, the woman could not tell his parents’ names.
Hotel manager contradicts police version
The statement of hotel manager and co-owner Ajaz Ahmad before the Magistrate is contradictory to the police version.
He stated that “they (Major Gogoi and the local woman) entered the hotel premises together and wanted to check into the already booked room together”.
“I recorded my statement without any pressure or duress. Major Gogoi had not checked in already as was told by the police in its statement to the media. The woman was wearing a headscarf and her face was uncovered and she looked like a local,” said Aijaz.
Poverty-stricken family flees neighbourhood, mother terrified of Major Gogoi
Kawoosa (Budgam): The family of the girl who was detained along with Major Leetul Gogoi from a Srinagar hotel on Wednesday have fled their neighbourhood in Chek Kawoosa area in Budgam.
When Kashmir Reader visited the family, the girl’s mother was still present in the house, which is no more than a shed made of corrugated tin sheets. She has reportedly left it now and gone into hiding.
The mother and aunt of the girl were huddled in the tin shed when this reporter reached there, some 13 kilometers away from Srinagar along the Srinagar-Gulmarg highway. The mother said that Major Gogoi along with his fellow soldier Sameer Malla visited their home twice in the past two months. “They threatened us that if we told about their visits to anyone, we will be shot dead,” she said.
“We are extremely poor. Our house was washed away in the 2014 floods. Since then we have not been able to construct a new house. We live in this makeshift shed along with our large family,” she said.
She said that the girl’s father is a daily-wage labourer who works hard to meet the needs of the family.
“We are living a life of penury and hardship. This girl (who was with Major Gogoi) is my youngest child. She studies in Class 10 and also does some embroidery work to earn some money,” the mother said.
“On Wednesday, she left home to visit the J&K Bank branch at Narbal, some 2 kilometers away. She had to go there to attend a meeting called by members of a self-help group,” the mother said. “Taking some documents along in her bag, she assured us that she will be back soon. We had no idea that she was taken to Srinagar by Major Gogoi and his associate Sameer Ahmad Malla in their vehicle.”
“My husband left for work and I was alone at my home when someone from the neighbourhood informed me that my daughter had been caught along with this army major at Srinagar,” she said.
“I was shocked and for a while could not believe him. But when police called the local sarpanch (village head) and asked him to come and take the girl back home, I was shocked to know that it had really happened,” she said.
The mother said that her daughter was born in October 1998. She said the girl was brought back to Budgam and handed over to her father in the presence of elders from the neighbourhood who had come to their home on Wednesday evening.
The girl is now staying at her maternal uncle’s home in Panzinara. This reported visited the uncle’s home but he was not allowed to meet the girl.
“We don’t want to prolong this issue but rather want it to end as soon as possible,” said one of the family members.
The mother of the girl said, “This is not the first incident when Major Gogoi has abducted our girl. In the past two months, he (Gogoi) visited our home twice during the night hours.”
“On one of those nights, we were quite asleep in our shed. It was almost 2am when someone knocked on our door. We woke up but did not open the door. However, there was continuous knocking on the door, so we opened it. We saw that two persons wearing pherans standing outside,” the mother said.
“We asked them their identity but they refused and barged inside the room,” she said. “I lost consciousness and fell down. I don’t know what happened after that. When I regained consciousness, I found that they had gone.”
The mother said that she enquired from her children who those men were. They replied that he was Major Gogoi and said that he had threatened them to not tell about this visit to anyone, or else they would be shot dead.
“We did not disclose this incident to anyone because we were afraid that they may kill us,” she said.
The family has three sons and a sole daughter. The family wants to settle the case and does not want to give it any hype, the girl’s mother and aunt said.
Nitin Leetul Gogoi incident takes political turn, girl’s family faces brunt
Over the last 24 hours, a tiny tin shanty has been at the centre of unwanted attention as the couple’s daughter was briefly detained with Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi in a Srinagar hotel by the police.
Unable to come to the grips with the situation, the family has sent the girl to her maternal uncle’s home to avoid the media glare.
“She left home for bank to deposit money from the self-help group on Wednesday morning. It was not the first time that she was going to the bank. She had been visiting the bank since she became a member of the self-help group two-three months ago,” said her mother. However, they received the shocking news on Wednesday afternoon when the sarpanch knocked at their door. “He had received a call from the police about the girl. Later, her uncle rushed to Srinagar to bring her back,” added the mother of three.
Fearing tension in the village, the girl was directly taken to her maternal uncle’s home. “I have not seen her since yesterday. My husband went to meet her today. We are unable to understand what has happened,” she said.
While the girl’s father is a daily-wage labourer, the girl is a student who also works as a handicraft artisan. Three months ago, she became a member of a self-help group to earn some money. “After she failed in the matriculation examination, she joined this group. We want justice,” said the mother.
Meanwhile on Thursday, both human shield victim Farooq Ahmad Dar and human rights activist Mohommad Ahsan Untoo staged a silent sit-in at Srinagar, demanding Major Gogoi’s arrest. The issue has also taken a political turn with Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Geelani demanding an impartial probe by some international agencies.