Handwara Killings: Statements issued by minor girl under pressure, claims Kashmir civil society group

By Raqib Hameed Naik, TwoCircles.net

Srinagar: A day after the minor girl at the center of Handwara protests gave her statement to the local Chief Judicial Magistrate that she was assaulted by two boys thus exonerating the army, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) on Monday alleged that she has given both her statements first one to the police and then to the magistrate under pressure.

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The legal team of JKCCS have been appointed as legal counsels by the family of the minor girl, at the centre of the Handwara sexual assault and killings case.

Alleging police of controlling the independent movement of the minor girl and her family members, JKCCS said, “After the release of the girl and her family from the illegal police detention. The JKCCS team decided to move to Handwara to meet with the minor girl and her parents. It was discussed with the parents of the minor girl that they will meet with the team at Handwara District Hospital. On reaching the District Hospital, the team was informed by the uncle and the mother of the minor girl that the father and the girl, who from 16 April have been relocated by the police at her maternal uncle’s home at Zachaldara, Handwara, have been stopped by the police on their way to Handwara and sent back. The police are effectively controlling the movement of the minor girl and her family.”

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File Photo

The team led by JKCCS met the family members late Sunday evening and were surprised to find four police officials in the house of the family.

“At around 9:30 pm the minor girl met the legal team of JKCCS and her mother for the first time after the incident of 12 April 2016. The legal team found on arriving at the residence of minor girl’s maternal uncle that four police personnel, including the Divisional Officer, Police Post Zachaldara, Masroor Ahmad were seated in the room in conversation with the minor girl and family. Following a brief conversation with the police, the team insisted on a private meeting with the family,” said JKCCS spokesperson.

In the meeting, the minor girl and family, as claimed by JKCCS, re-affirmed that they wish their legal team to continue to represent them. They stated that they have effectively been kept in illegal police detention and wrongful confinement from 12 April to date. They further claimed that they have been intimidated, abused and kept under constant surveillance and they have at no point sought police protection. Their phones have been confiscated at the will of the police and access and physical movement has been either completely denied or limited as per the discretion of the police, claimed JKCCS.

“ The minor girl has on two occasions – in the video recorded and circulated and in the Section 164-A CrPC statement before the judicial magistrate – been pressurized to testify in a manner as directed by the police. Neither of these statements were made voluntarily. From 12 April to 14 April 2016 the minor girl and family were illegally detained at the Handwara Police Station. From 11 p.m. of 14 April to the morning of 16 April 2016 the minor girl and family were illegally detained at a police personnel’s private residence at Shehlal village who was a complete stranger to the family. On 16 April 2016, the minor girl’s statement under Section164-A CrPC was recorded before the judicial magistrate at Handwara. Her father was not present in court during the recording of the statement. No lawyer was present in court accompanying her,” said JKCCS spokesperson.

Nayeema Mehjoor, Chairperson of the State Commission for Women has assured JKCCS of appropriate re-location of the family to a private and safe place, away from media and police or other official interference.

“The minor girl has sought, and requires, the time, space and privacy to be able to take part in the important investigations. Presently, every effort is being made by the police to harass and intimidate the family. The case is listed before the High Court on 20 April 2016, but the ensuing 48 hours are crucial for the minor girl and family and their safety and JKCCS is making every effort to ensure that the police intimidation is stopped. It appears the Government wants to pressurize the family to discontinue the legal struggle,” calimed JKCCS.

Importantly On Tuesday April 12, two youths were shot dead by the security forces in Handwara, a town in Kupwara district, 71 kms from Srinagar.

The youths who were protesting against the alleged molestation attempt of a school girl in Handwara town by a trooper of Indian Army’s 21 RR were allegedly fired upon by army which lead to injuries to six people out of which two youths Nayeem Qadir Bhat, 22 and Iqbal Farooq, 21 died and another elderly women succumbed to her injured on Wednesday morning taking toll to three.Two more youths were later killed youth one was hit by tear gas shell on his head in Drugmulla area where as another one was shot dead by army in Nutsuna village of Kupwara. The whole district continues under curfew for sixth consecutive day.