At Centre of Controversy, Distressed Kashmiri Minor Just Wants to "Go Back to School"
SRINAGAR: The minor girl from north Kashmir's Handwara, whose alleged molestation sparked violent protests across Kashmir, has told the officials that the police recorded her statement inside a police station by "deception".
The video, which had gone viral on social networking sites, was officially released by the Army's Srinagar based spokesperson, to deny the claims that the girl was molested by an Army soldier in Handwara on April 12.
"I found her very disturbed by the fact that the video was circulated on social media and her face has become known to all. She was assured by the police that the video will be kept secret but she has become vulnerable," chairperson of Jammu and Kashmir State Commission for Woman (SCW), Nayeema Mehjoor, said.
Mehjoor, a former BBC journalist who joined the PDP last year, met the girl in Srinagar on Friday after police brought her from Zachaldara in Handwara where she has been kept under police detention.
"She didn't speak anything about the incident. She wants to go to school and continue her studies. She wants to join the same school where she was enrolled. We have assured her of all help," she said.
Rejecting the allegations that the girl has been kept under police detention, the SWC chief claimed that the girl's father had sought police "assistance" to clear the matter, "Her father had asked for police assistance, but not security. , so the family was provided with police assistance," she said.
The alleged molestation by an Army soldier sparked violent protests in Handwara which spread to other areas of the frontier Kupwara district. In the retaliatory action by armed forces, five civilians including an elderly women were shot dead.
The J&K Police have registered separate cases of arson, rumour mongering and murder into the killings while as the state government has also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the violence.
A senior police officer said the girl has been kept under surveillance to avoid any untoward incident, "We have deployed some personnel to keep a guard on her because there are fears about her safety. We can't take any risk," the officer said.
The police has also asked the Army to explain its position on the issue, "We are collecting details about the Army personnel who were deployed at the camp at the time of the incident," the official said.
The magisterial inquiry into the case hasn't made any significant progress with no local from Handwara deposing before the magistrate so far, "We have already appealed locals to come up and record their statements, but no one has turned up so far," a senior government official said.
The case is also coming up for hearing this week in J&K High Court where a PIL filed by Kashmir Bar Association is seeking a judicial inquiry by a sitting High Court judge.
(photograph: BASIT ZARGAR)