Srinagar: The government has not filed a case against the police or army personnel who exposed the identity of the minor Handwara schoolgirl by leaking her video on social media networking sites.
The State Women Commission, which mulls filing a case against the police and army for disclosing the girl’s identity, has failed to trace the girl, an official working for the commission said.
However, Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society issued a statement saying the girl has been detained by the police. Her father and uncle, who had been summoned to Handwara police station last night, have also been detained.
“The family has been denied access to both the minor girl and her father. The detention of the minor girl and her father are outside the powers of the state and appears to be an attempt to further pressurise the family to withdraw all allegations against the armed forces,” it said.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti was not available for the comment. However, PDP youth president Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra said leaking the girl’s video was “negligence” and action should be taken against those responsible for it.
He said the government’s priority is to restore the normalcy and “it would be looked into how the video surfaced in public domain”.
“Was the video released to de-escalate the violence? That could have been done by editing or blurring the face of the girl in the video. Negligence has taken place,” he said.
The JK Juvenile Justice Act 2013 (juvenile in conflict with law or a child in need of care and protection), section 22, while prohibiting revealing the identity of a juvenile, says, “No report in any newspaper, magazine, news sheet or visual media of any inquiry shall disclose the name, address or school or any other particulars calculated to lead to the identification of the juvenile or child nor shall any picture of any such juvenile or child be published.”
It said, whosoever having the actual charge of, or control over, a juvenile or the child “assaults, abandons, exposes or willfully neglects the juvenile or causes or procures him to be assaulted, abandoned, exposed or neglected in a manner likely to cause such juvenile or the child unnecessary menial or physical suffering shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or fine or with both”.
Also, section 95 clause 3 said, information that may lead to identity of juvenile shall not be made public either by private or state agencies.
India’s well-known lawyer and child rights activist Sangeeta Punekar said that police has committed a gross violation by taking the girl to a police station in the first place.
“It is a violation under JJ Act. She can claim damages from people involved in the case. What’s the purpose of circulating the video? If she was coming from school, her guardian, school principal or teacher was to be taken along. Also, girl’s statement in police custody is not a final statement,” Punekar told Kashmir Reader.
Not only it is the violation of JJ Act but the also the violation of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child.
Supreme Court lawyer Aparna Bhat said the girl might have been “compelled” to give the statement in police custody. She quoted Supreme Court judgments saying identity of a victim of sexual abuse cannot be released and is a clear violation.
“Police has to file a case against the person who leaked the video,” said Aparna.