By Ishfaq Reshi
Srinagar: A peaceful protest held by the Solidarity Group for the Handwara Minor Girl on Wednesday here at press enclave urged the government to pay attention towards grave and serious allegations of sexual assault of the girl and wrongful police detention of the victim and her family. “We demand the Chief Minister take cognisance of the seriousness of this case and initiate immediate action,” said Essar, one of the protestors.
“By revealing the identity of the victim, the police have also violated the Supreme Court guidelines which demand the protection of identity of the victim of sexual assault,” protestors alleged, adding that “the detention of the minor girl and her family members are outside the powers of the state and appears to be an attempt to further pressurise the family to withdraw all allegations against armed forces,” they added.
They also condemned the “manner in which the video (of the girl) has been recorded and then circulated in gross violation of the special protection afforded to minors, particularly during investigation of sexual assault cases. The actions of the police and army would necessarily invite criminal prosecution if investigated”.
“We stand in solidarity with the girl and all other women who face the threat of sexual violence at the hands of Indian armed forces and further police intimidation. The expression of solidarity is also a self-reflective moment for our society to rethink our response to victims of sexual violence,” they added.
However, they said that at this stage our society should stand in solidarity with the victim of sexual assault(s) and not fall prey to divisive tactics of the state, which always tries to exploit the faultlines in our society whenever men in uniform face charges of sexual assault. “We demand the government immediately release the girl and her family members from police custody, and allow unhindered access to the girl and her family to legal aid of their choice.”
“The government should investigate and prosecute the killers of four youths and a lady and should also investigate and prosecute the police personnel responsible for shooting and circulating video,” said Khair-un-Nissa another protestor.
They demanded that a strictly-observed protocol be put in place as per the law, of reporting any case of sexual assault against men in uniform and that the High Court orders regarding the constitution of the Juvenile Justice Board in J&K be implemented.