On a day Jammu and Kashmir High Court asked state police to explain grounds on which they “detained” the minor girl whose allegations of molestation by an Armyman in Handwara Tuesday led to protests, and subsequent firing by security forces in which five people have died so far, her mother claimed Saturday that the minor was pressured into giving a video statement denying she was molested.
“She has given the statement under police pressure. She was kept alone at the police station. No one (from the family) was with her at that time,” the mother (name withheld to protect identity) said on Saturday.
On Saturday, the mother filed a petition before the High Court, seeking release of her daughter, husband and sister, saying they have been taken into custody illegally. Admitting the petition, Justice Muzaffar Hussian Attar directed the SP and SHO of Handwara to state the “law and authority” under which the three have been kept in police custody.
The High Court also directed the police to immediately present the three “before the nearest Chief Judicial Magistrate/Judicial Magistrate”. The court directed the police to not present the girl before media till April 20, the day her mother’s petition would come up for hearing.
J-K Police have been doing flip-flop on minor’s detention. While DIG, North Kahsmir, Uttam Chand has said the girl, her father and aunt are in “protective custody”, IGP, Kashmir, Javed Mujtaba Gilani has said the girl is “not in our custody and if she wants to meet anyone, she is free”.
A video, apparently shot and leaked by police, had gone viral on social media Tuesday. In it, the girl purportedly exonerated Army personnel of molestation and accused some local youths of assaulting her. The army officially released the video a day later.
On Saturday, the minor’s mother told The Indian Express: “We have no information about her for the last few days. Police have not allowed us to meet her, or to talk with her on phone. On 12th (April), they (police) called us around 12 or 1 at night and asked us to take her home. I have a disc problem and couldn’t go (so) I sent her father and my sister. But they, too, were detained.”
A police contingent led by SP Faisal Qayoom laid a cordon around the office of Jammu-Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), where the mother wanted to address a press meet. JKCCS later released a video of her statement.
IGP Gilani said police “haven’t stopped” the press meet but only “not allowed people to assemble at a place under curfew… Maisuma (under police station’s jurisdiction) was under curfew.”