NC Wants A Judicial Probe Into Alleged Molestation of Handwara Girl
SRINAGAR: The opposition National Conference Tuesday demanded a judicial probe into the Handwara molestation incident, a day after the victim girl sought registration of FIRs against an Army soldier for "sexual assault" and a senior police officer for filming her in custody and circulating the video.
"The girl has now said she was sexually assaulted by an Army man and abused by policemen. Earlier, the Army has denied charges, showing her video statement recorded in police custody. The incident is shrouded in mystery. So it would be appropriate to order a judicial probe into the incident," senior leader and NC general secretary, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said.
The J&K High Court has already dismissed a petition by the Kashmir Bar Association, seeking judicial probe into the events in Handwara which sparked a wave of protests across Kupwara district, resulting in the killings of five civilians.
The minor girl from Handwara, who is at the centre of the incident, Monday submitted two complaints at Handwara police station, urging the Station House Officer to file an FIR against an Army soldier for "sexually assaulting" her when she was coming out of the public toilet on April 12.
Breaking her silence on the events of the fateful day, the minor girl made a statement before media at the Srinagar office of the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a human rights group fighting her case. She said an Army soldier tried to grab her hand when she was coming out of the public toilet located beneath an Army installation in Handwara.
The installation, comprising of four bunkers, was demolished by the state government to quell public rage against the Army unit whose soldiers allegedly opened fire to quell protests following the alleged molestation bid, killing three civilians, including an elderly women tending to her vegetable garden.
The Army as well as the J&K police have denied the allegations of sexual assault on the girl and instead blamed two local youths for fanning tensions in the town, one of whom has been arrested.
Puncturing the official claims, the minor girl said: "As I was exiting, an army soldier forcibly held my hand. I screamed and ran away from the bathroom area ..... The army solider ... must be punished for his actions of sexual assault and therefore I request that a FIR be filed against him," she says in her police complaint
"Following the filing of FIR I am willing to provide a detailed statement and request that it be recorded before the court," she writes.
As violence broke out in the town, the girl was "dragged" by a cop, whom she identified as Mohammad Shafi Watali, to the Handwara police station where she was met with "hostility" and the police personnel on duty were "abusive and threatening".
"I am 16 years old. At the Handwara police station I was produced before the Munshi, namely Khursheed. No female police personnel was present then. I was not informed of my right to have a lawyer or family member present with me," she says in her complaint.
"A two star officer named Mohsin entered the room, and he verbally abused and spat on me. I saw his name on his name plate .... Three policemen, with their faces covered, came into the room and asked me what happened. I told them what the army soldier had done to me. They told me, in very harsh tone, that I should not continue with this allegation and I should instead blame local boys. One of them even slapped me when I was refusing to change my statement," she says.
"Because of the pressure I was under, and in light of being threatened by the policemen on what to say, I repeated my statement on video (recorded by SP Ghulam Jeelani) without putting any blame on the army and without mentioning what the army man had done to me outside the public toilet," the complaint, a copy of which is in possession of The Citizen, states.
"In distress and under pressure, I narrated what had happened while not revealing details regarding the army soldier. (SP Ghulam) Jeelani Sahib then left the room and returned and told me he wanted to record my statement on his mobile phone. He promised not to make it public," she said.
In her complaint, the girl says a police official identified as 'Shafi' alias “Moulvi Sahib” forcibly took her signatures on blank papers. "He also made me write an application seeking police protection and then sign it. It is these forced signatures on papers that were subsequently used to claim that we had voluntarily sought police protection which we hadn't," she said.
"I request you to file a FIR and take action against the police and anyone else found responsible for the video that was recorded and circulated against my consent and with my identity revealed and for our wrongful confinement, detention and hostile treatment by the police and others from 12 April to 12 May 2016," the complaint states.