Say they never ‘voluntarily’ sought police protection or protective custody
Srinagar: Parents of the minor girl who was allegedly molested in Handwara last month, rebutted the government claims on Wednesday, saying “police protection or protective custody” was never sought “voluntarily” and that the detention of their daughter was “wrongful custody”.
The girl, her father and aunt were released on Tuesday by the police after 27 days in custody.
“At no point in time has the deponent, (my) minor daughter or (my) sister-in-law voluntarily sought police protection or protective custody,” reads an affidavit filed by the girl’s father before the high court in compliance with the directions by a division bench last week. “(I) on behalf of my minor daughter and the family, state that we do not require any police protection or protective custody and we wish to move freely and reside at any place of our choice. We do not seek any restrictions, regulations or surveillance on our movements by any agency,” he said, and also undertook that the family would be personally responsible for their safety.
On claims by the police that the girl’s parents were not ‘on the same page’ regarding ‘protective custody’, the girl’s mother in the affidavit has stated the same as what her husband attested and undertook before the court.
The police has been denying claims by the girl’s mother that her 16-year-old daughter, husband and sister were detained against their will. The police insisted that they were not detained but sought “asylum” after firing by the Indian army killed two persons in the north Kashmir town on April 12. In a compliance report filed before the court earlier this month, the police stated that the girl approached police station Handwara on 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 main chowk, Handwara.
“Meanwhile, some subversive elements raised a hue and cry in the town, alleging that an army soldier had molested the schoolgirl in the public lavatory. This incited/provoked the locals and the news spread like wildfire. The situation look an ugly turn and a 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 on some youths,” the police said.
On the next day (April 13), police said curfew was imposed in the town but all of district Kupwara witnessed huge protests against the killing of the civilians during which two more youths lost their lives (in action by police and other government forces).
“In this backdrop, the girl and her father apprehended enormous and imminent danger to their lives and refused to leave the police station. Accordingly, on the request and choice of the father, they were shifted to the house of his friend, in close proximity to the police station, and their identity and location was kept hidden even from the petitioner, so that they may remain safe and secure,” the police said.
While reserving orders on a plea filed by the girl’s mother against the ‘illegal detention’, the high court on Monday had directed the girl’s parents to file an affidavit before it, stating that their daughter did not need police protection.