HC questions cops on Handwara girl detention, Centre sends more troops

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Apr 16, 2016 20:35 IST
Securitymen march on deserted road in downtown Srinagar as tension grips Kashmir. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

The Jammu and Kashmir high court on Saturday asked police to cite the law under which they have detained a 16-year-old girl whose alleged molestation triggered violent protests in the Valley that have left five people dead since Tuesday.

As the Centre rushed more security personnel to the valley bristling with tension, the girl’s mother also said police had pressurised the school student to give a statement denying molestation. The Army had released the video of the girl’s statement to counter criticism.

The incident and subsequent violence has come a big test for the BJP-PDP alliance government which was revived after months of uncertainty. The latest death of a 17-year-old youth on Friday came a day after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti asked security forces not to harm civilians.

Read: Mother says cops forced Handwara girl into giving statement

Besides issuing notice to the state, justice MH Attar directed the Handwara superintendent of police and station house officer to inform the court under which law they have detained the minor girl, her father and aunt since the incident on April 12.

The court order came after girl’s mother Taja Begum sought release of her daughter and two other relatives from “illegal detention” of police, the petitioner’s counsel Parvaiz Imroz said.

He said the court also directed the police to present the girl before the chief judicial magistrate of Handwara for recording her statement.

“The court has said that the father and aunt of the girl cannot be forced to appear before print or electronic media,” Imroz said. The case will be heard on April 20.

Imroz also submitted before the court that the petitioner apprehends that the life of her minor daughter, husband and sister is in jeopardy.

Violent protests rocked north Kashmir Handwara town on Tuesday following the alleged molestation of the girl by a soldier.

Three persons were killed in security forces firing on protesters that day. Another youth was killed on Wednesday at Drugmulla during protests against the earlier killings while another youth was killed during similar protests in Nathnusa area of Kupwara on Friday.

Read: Central govt sends more forces, asks J-K to ensure no loss of lives

Police maintain that the family was under preventive custody and was in the police station on their own.

The mother of the girl said on Saturday that she was pressurised into giving the video statement.

“My girl is just 16 years old and was alone in the police station when her statement was recorded. She was pressurised by police to give that statement,” her mother said.

A civil society group scheduled a press conference for the family but it was not allowed by police.

The girl’s mother alleged that police detained her daughter without informing the family and revealed her identity by recoding the video statement without covering her face.

“We have approached court and demanded an independent inquiry into the incident. We do not want police or Army, those who have done this, to inquire it,” she said.

In Delhi, the Centre decided to rush 3,600 additional paramilitary personnel to the Valley and asked the state government to ensure that there is no further loss of lives.

Read: HC queries J-K police on ‘detention’ of girl, kin in Handwara

The decision to send more forces was taken at a high level meeting here where situation in Jammu and Kashmir was discussed extensively.

Curfew-like restrictions continued for the fourth day in parts of Kashmir following the violence.

While 12 companies of paramilitary personnel will reach the state on Saturday, 24 more companies will reach there by Sunday. One company of paramilitary comprises of about 100 personnel.

The ruling People’s Democratic Party said there “seems to be a deliberate and sinister attempt” by vested interests to destabilise and subvert the local economy by fuelling violence.

PDP youth president Waheed Para, who was advisor to former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said all right-thinking people must close their ranks to prevent such vested interests from carrying out their nefarious designs.

Para was at the centre of a controversy after he reportedly blamed youth for attacking an army camp that led to death of one person and injuries to three others in Nathnusa area of Kupwara.

Para, however, denied the statement attributed to him.

(with agency inputs)

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