SRINAGAR: Police on Wednesday denied claims of a woman from Handwara, saying her 16-year-old daughter and husband were not detained but they sought “asylum” after army firing killed two persons in the north Kashmir town last week.
In the compliance report filed through senior Additional Advocate General, the police have maintained silence over the “recording and circulation of the video” in which the girl’s identity has been revealed and is shown to exonerate the army of molestation charges.
The police said that the girl approached police station Handwara on last Tuesday (April 12) at around 3:15 pm with a grievance that she was molested, dragged and slapped by two local boys while she was coming out of a public lavatory in the main chowk Handwara.
She identified one of the boys as Hilal Ahmad Banday who according to her yelling “Kya Kashmiri Mar Gaye Hai” (have Kashmiris died), the police said. The other boy, she said, is not known to her but she could identify him, the police said. Accordingly, police said, a case (FIR No. 130/2016 u/s 509, 354,341) RPC was registered.
“Meanwhile, some subversive elements raised a hue and cry in town Handwara alleging that an army soldier had forcibly molested the schoolgirl in the public lavatory. This incited/provoked the locals and the news spread like wild fire. The situation look an ugly turn and violent mob gathered in the main chowk. To tackle the situation, the army personnel resorted to firing, resulting in death of two persons besides inflicting injuries to some youth,” the police said.
A case (FIR No. 131/2016 u/s 302 RPC) stands registered in Police Station Handwara, police said.
On next day (April 13), curfew was imposed in the town but whole District Kupwara witnessed huge protests against the killing of the civilians during which two more youth lost their lives (in action by police and other government forces).
“In this back drop, the girl and her father apprehended enormous and imminent danger to their lives and denied to leave the police station. Accordingly on the request and choice of father, they were shifted to the house of his friend however in close contact to Police. Station and their identity and location was kept hidden even to the petitioner, so that they may remain safe and secure,” the cops said.
While situation remained tense, police said that on early morning of April 15, the investigating officer approached the Chief Judicial Magistrate at his residence with an application for recording victim and her father’s statement under section 164 Cr.PC. However, the CJM, owing to Gazzetted holiday declined the plea and directed the IO to produce them on April 16. On directions by the CJM, Judicial Magistrate Handwara recorded their statement.
“The victim and her father corroborated their earlier version and the contents of FIR that stands registered in this behalf,” the police said, adding girl’s father also filed a written application before the CJM for a safe asylum. “The application was provided to (investigating officer) by the CJM for compliance,” the police said, adding that no question of wrongful restraint or wrongful confinement exist as “perceived” by the girl’s mother.
As the case came up for hearing, a single bench of the high court comprising Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar directed its registry to club the woman’s petition along with a Public Interest Litigation filed by the Kashmir Bar Association.
“It is submitted (by senior additional advocate general) that in the PIL, the concerns and issues about the minor girl have been delineated and the reliefs have been sought about her protection and about her so-called detention in police station Handwara and legality of her statement. (under) these circumstances, it will be appropriate to direct listing of (the petition) along with the PIL,” the court said.
At this stage, counsel for the petitioner, P Imroz, submitted her client be permitted to have access to the minor girl.
“The SP (senior superintendent) shall take steps and facilitate meeting of the counsel and mother with girl’s father and the minor,” the court said and directed police to file a compliance report before April 26 when the PIL has been listed by the division bench for further consideration.