Lawyers of the minor girl, who had alleged molestation by two local boys in north Kashmir’s Handwara town last week, met her at Zachaldara on Thursday, a day after the Jammu and Kashmir high court had directed the superintendent of police to facilitate a meeting.
Khurram Parvez, a spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) that is providing legal help to the girl and her family, said the girl and her family had a two-hour long meeting with Parvez Imroz and Kartik Murukutla, while two policemen stood outside the room.
“She informed the lawyers that once she is out of the police detention; she would struggle for justice and expose the lies of the State and those who have been maligning her image,” Parvez said in a statement.
The girl and her father, according to the JKCCS, were brought from an undisclosed location, which is almost 5 km away from Zachaldara, where the actual meeting was held.
“The family confirmed that they were being held in police custody against their will, and seek urgent relief from the High Court to have them released from the custody and be allowed to reside at a place of their choice where they can continue their legal struggle,” Parvez said.
While government officials maintained that the girl and her family were being housed at a “relative’s house without any restrictions”, the JKCCS said that it was evident from the police’s “conduct” on Thursday that “the minor girl is in police custody, and is under severe restrictions, surveillance and her movement, and those wishing to meet her, are regulated by the police”.
The statement further claimed that the girl “is daunted by continuous police detention and resultant instability and worried for the security of her family members”.
The JKCCS also challenged the police status report filed before the court on Wednesday which said that the girl and her father had “requested” police protection and are not “wrongfully confined” in any way.
Rumours that an Indian Army soldier had molested a girl spurred large-scale protests in the Valley over the previous week, resulting in the death of five people. The minor, however, claimed later that she was molested by two local boys.
Nayeema Mehjoor, the chairperson of the State Commission for Women, told the media on Wednesday night that the girl was “not in police custody” but at a relative’s house. However, “one or two policemen” are with the girl “to make her feel safe as she is feeling insecure and is mentally disturbed”, she added.
“I talked to the girl myself. She is quite exhausted and disturbed. Even the girl’s family members are feeling insecure about her security, which is why they are putting up at a relative’s house. I don’t think police have been restricting the girl’s movements,” Mehjoor was quoted as saying by a Srinagar-based news agency.
The JKCCS, however, stuck to the fact that the girl is in “police custody” and restrictions and expressed its “concerns” on Mehjoor’s statement.
Protests in Handwara
In Handwara, scores of students marched from Government Degree College to the residence of Nayeem Qadir, a man killed in firing by security personnel last week, on Thursday to protest against the death of five persons when security forces tried to quell the recent protests. Qadir was a student at the degree college.
Students, holding placards like “Kill Me, I am Nayeem”, shouted pro-Azaadi slogans and held funeral prayers for Qadir and others who died last week. The town shut spontaneously following the march.
A delegation of the hardliner Hurriyat (G) faction also visited Handwara and, according to a press statement, “paid glorious tributes to the martyrs and expressed grief and sorrow with the families of the deceased”.