Major U-turn: Handwara girl says army man, not boys molested her

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Pardeep Singh Dardi

 

After month long silence, the Handwara girl who remained the centre of violent protests in Srinagar, has taken a sudden U-turn on the incident, saying the Army man not the local boys had molested her.

Addressing a special press conference, the teenage girl rejected her earlier statement and alleged that the police had forced her to give a ‘misleading’ statement to the magistrate.

“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?,” she said and added the police also forced her to sign blank paper.

“They made me sign blank papers. I can’t write in Urdu. They made my write in Urdu and took signature,” the girl said, who was in ‘protective custody’ for 27 days and was released only after the court ordered the cops to do so.

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.

The girl’s narrated the incident, saying, “When I came out from the washroom, an armyman held my hand. I managed to free myself from his clutches and ran outside screaming. Some local boys saw me and one of them asked me the reason. He also slapped me. Then I was taken to the police station.” She also alleged that one policeman also spat on her, besides threatened 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 and added that the concerned SP was rude to her, “I want to ask the SP, doesn’t he had daughters at home? Had he been same to them (accused), if anything like this would have happened to his daughters,” she asked.

In her recent statement, she also accused State Commission of Women (SCW) chairperson Nayeema Mehjoor’s and termed her role as “partisan and deceptive.

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.

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