Handwara girl alleges molestation by army man, harassment by police

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The Handwara Schoolgirl who remained under ‘preventive custody’ for 27 days Monday alleged molestation by an army man and said she was forced by the police officials to record the statement.
Addressing a presser here at Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society’s (JKCSS) office, the 16 year old girl who became the centre of attention after violence erupted in Handwara area in previous month said, “Police officials forced me to record the statement and circulated that on the internet. The police officials threatened me not to change my statement in front of the District Magistrate to save myself and my family,” she added. She alleged that to save the army personnel, the police officials kept her image at stake by circulating the video on the internet. “The video was shot by a top police official of the district. He shot my video forcefully and under the pretext that he won’t circulate it especially to the media but later he did the same,” she alleged. “As soon as I entered the washroom, an army man attempted to molest me. The army man held of my hand after which I shouted and the locals gathered outside the public convenience. I recognized a policeman who began to drag me to the Handwara police station. I asked him to allow me to go to my house. But, he didn’t leave me, abused me and took me directly to the Handwara police station,” she said. She said that she was produced before Munshi. “The behaviour of police personnel towards me was very aggressive. The police personnel were abusive and threatening me. I was frightened,” she alleged.
“Police official asked my name but I didn’t respond, the Munshi then reached into my bag and recorded my name from my school books. He also asked me for my father’s name which I provided. The Munshi also took away my phones even though I said I wanted to contact my family members. He refused to return the phones to me,” she alleged. The girl said, “a sub-inspector namely abused me. He came into the room and I noticed his name on his nameplate. He spat on me and left.” She said that her family was not informed that she had been taken to a police station where “I faced huge humiliation at the hands of policemen. I was harassed by police officials while remaining under illegal detention.”
The Handwara schoolgirl also accused the Chairperson Woman’s Rights Commission of ‘siding with the police’.
Terming the youth who were killed in a week long protests that erupted in district Kupwara after the incident as her brothers, the girl said, “At a time when my brothers sacrificed their lives for my safety, why should I flee from the spot to fight against the person who molested me,” she said with tears in her eyes. Meanwhile, the victim has written to Station House Officer Handwara Police Station and demanded registration of an FIR against the army personnel for “sexually” assaulting her, against the police official for recording her video and widely circulating her without hiding her identity. The alleged molestation bid by the army personnel has sparked violent protests in north Kashmir while five civilians including a woman were killed during a week-long protest. But in a controversial video shot inside the police station, the girl said she had been harassed by local boys on her way home from school. She was under protective custody for 27 days and was released only after court intervention.

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