May 2016 News

Kashmir Girl Out Of 'protective' Custody

11 May 2016
The Telegraph (Kolkata)

Srinagar: The schoolgirl whose alleged molestation by a soldier had triggered protests across Kashmir and left five civilians dead when security forces opened fire to quell violent mobs was released last night after nearly a month in 'protective' custody. A rights activist, however, said police took a 'pre-emptive' step. Khurram Parvez, of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), said the state's high court had on Monday sought an affidavit from the 16-year-old's family saying they wanted her released. 'The police in a pre-emptive manner ended her illegal detention even before the high court could announce its decision. The girl was released last night but her parents still submitted an affidavit today in which they iterated that they never sought police protection for the girl and will never do so in the future,' Parvez, programme coordinator for the JKCCS, which filed the petition on behalf of the girl's mother, added. The girl had been under police 'protection' since April 12, when violent protests rocked Handwara town following claims by some youths that she was molested by a jawan. Five persons were killed in the subsequent firing by security forces on protesters across Kupwara district, where Handwara is situated. The deaths added fuel to the fire and the protests had soon spread to other parts of the Valley. The army had released a video of the girl in which she denies reports of molestation and instead alleges that some local youths had falsely accused her of cosying up to the jawan. Khurram said the girl had made the statement under duress. 'We met the girl and she told us she had made the statement under duress. She also said she would reveal the facts (of what actually happened on April 12) before the court.' The Jammu and Kashmir government had recently filed a status report in the high court saying the girl was in 'safe asylum' since her father had prayed for police protection.