Srinagar: The Handwara girl, who is at the centre of an agitation that saw the killing of five persons at the hands of government forces in the past week, has told her lawyers that police had detained her and her family members against their will, while pledging she will “struggle for justice and expose the lies of the state and those who have been maligning her image”, a statement issued by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said on Thursday.
The girl was taken into custody by the police last Tuesday, when she was spotted near a toilet constructed by the army near one of its three bunkers in Handwara town. A group of protesters seeking action against the soldier were fired at by the army/police, killing two youths. A woman in her fifties was killed at some distance away in firing by the army.
The police had filmed the minor girl giving a statement in which she accused two youths of slapping and abusing her while denying that a soldier had assaulted her. After her mother filed a petition in the high court, saying the girl, her father and aunt had been illegally detained, the court directed that a magistrate should record her statement.
However, after she gave her statement before Handwara chief judicial magistrate, the police have been keeping her under surveillance, not allowing anyone to meet her.
The court had on Wednesday asked the police to facilitate a meeting between the girl and her mother and her laywers.
On Thursday finally, the minor girl met her mother and lawyers Parvez Imroz and Kartik Murukutla.
“The girl and her father were brought from an undisclosed location, which is almost 5 kms away from the place where the actual meeting was held in Zachaldara. Two police personnel were stationed outside throughout to ensure that no one else was allowed inside,” the JKCCS statement said.
“The police, through their conduct, today confirmed that the minor girl is in police custody and is under severe restrictions, surveillance and her movement and meetings with people are regulated by the police,” the statement added.
During the two-hour-long meeting with the lawyers, the family said they were being held in “police custody against their will and seek urgent relief from the High Court to have them released from the custody and be allowed to reside at a place at their choice where they can continue their legal struggle”.
“The minor girl at the center of the police oppression is daunted by continuous police detention and resultant instability and worried for the security of her family members. She informed the lawyers that once she is out of the police detention she would struggle for justice and expose the lies of the state and those who have been maligning her image,” the statement added.
The JKCCS said that police action today contradicts the status report filed by the government before the High Court, in which it had said the girl and family have requested police protection and are not confined or detained in any way.
“We are particularly concerned about the statement to this effect made by Nayeema Mehjoor, Chairperson of the State Commission for Women, as she has offered to assist the family of the minor girl in relocating them away from Police control and media,” the statement said.