May 2016 News

Handwara Teen Does A U-turn, Says Army Man, Not Local Boys Molested Her

16 May 2016

Srinagar: A month on, the Handwara girl who was at the centre of violent protests in Srinagar in April, has changed her stand entirely on the incident. Rejecting her earlier statement, the teenage girl held a press conference alleging that the police forced her to give a statement to the magistrate, saying that it was not army personnel but local boys who had molested her. 'Police told me not to give my original statement, they said that will be safe for my family. To save their army man, my image was kept at stake. Why?,' ANI quoted the girl as saying. Addressing the media, the girl demanded a case against the police and anyone else who were found responsible for recording and circulating her video statement and for the 'wrongful confinement and hostile treatment'. She further made a statement about what happened on 12 April, while the media was discouraged from asking her questions. Representational image. PTI Representational image. PTI According to NDTV, the girl was in protective custody for 27 days and was released only after the court ordered the cops to do so. 'They made me sign blank papers. I can't write in Urdu. They made my write in Urdu and took our signature,' NDTV quoted her as saying about her forced stay in the police station. The mother of the 16-year-old girl had earlier claimed that her daughter was pressurised into giving a video statement denying she was molested and has approached court seeking an independent probe into the incident. While her lawyer had earlier told the press that she was being pressured to make statements to save the army personnel, this is the first time the girl came forward to tell her end of the story of the original incident and the subsequent abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of the police. India Today quoted the girl's retelling of the incident: 'When I came out from the washroom, an armyman held my hand. I managed to free myself from his clutches and ran outside screaming. Then I was taken to the police station.' She also reportedly stated that one policeman actually spat on her. 'Every police officer who met me would insult me and leave. They never thought, 'she is a young child, how can we insult her?,' the girl said. Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), which represents the girl and her family, had claimed on 18 April that neither of her statements-one made in a video recorded by police and the other made before the CJM under Section 164-A of CrPC-were made voluntarily. 'The minor girl's statement under Section 164-A CrPC was recorded before the judicial magistrate at Handwara. Her father was not present in court during the recording of the statement. No lawyer was present in court accompanying her,' a spokesperson for JKCCS had said. Protests broke out on 12 April when news spread that army personnel had allegedly molested the teenager. Army men used force to quell the protests killing three civilians in the process. The protests had spread to nearby areas, resulting in death of two more persons forcing authorities to clamp curfew for a week. Soon after, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti intervened and called for calm, saying that her government will see to it that the guilty are punished.