Srinagar: A team of lawyers led by prominent human rights activist Parvez Imroz were on Friday prevented from meeting the mother of a 16-year-old schoolgirl who is at the centre of Valley-wide protests during which five people have been shot dead by the government forces.
The girl has been in what the state government calls ‘preventive custody’ since Tuesday when protests erupted in Handwara town after a soldier allegedly molested the girl in a public toilet. Her aunt and her father too have been detained since Thursday.
Violating all rules related to Juvenile Justice Act and in total disregard of her privacy, the police had filmed and later released a video in which the girl says that she had not been sexually assaulted by a soldier.
A spokesman of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society said that the girl’s mother approached them for “urgent and immediate legal assistance” and sought that investigations in this case should be carried out as per law “with full care”, keeping in view that the girl is a minor.
The team of lawyers intended to meet the girl’s mother to take her signatures before filing a petition in the high court, but the police stopped them at Ganapora village.
The JKCCS statement said that deputy inspector general of police (north Kashmir) Uttam Chand admitted that the girl is in police custody and nobody would be allowed to meet the girl’s mother.
“JKCCS submitted that in special circumstances the government does give curfew passes to the people and therefore it must be given at least to the mother of the victim to travel to legal team waiting at the outskirts of Handwara. He asked us to contact his seniors and also that he will talk to the concerned. JKCCS then contacted IGP Kashmir Javed Mujtaba Geelani who asked the team to contact the Deputy Commissioner Kupwara for permission and stated that the police had no power to allow access,” the statement said.
When the team called law minister Abdul Haq Khan, who has been deputed by the government to deal with the situation, he said he can’t “interfere in law and order tasks of the police and civil administration”
“JKCCS representative told him that does the government not consider providing access to justice to the family of the victim as a priority on which he informed the team that the priority of the government at this stage is restoration of the law,” the statement added.
Kupwara deputy commissioner did not respond to the team’s calls.
“The government has once again prioritized their need for control on the people over fundamental and human rights. The refusal to allow the JKCCS team to visit the family of the victim is aimed at prolonging the illegal detention of the girl, her father and her aunt,” the statement added.