April 2016 News
Handwara Girl, Father Not In Our Custody: Police20 April 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Police today said that the Handwara girl and her father are not in police custody but they have sought police protection following large scale violence last week in North Kashmir's Kupwara district after subversive elements resorted to violence alleging her molestation by Army man. SP Handwara and the SHO in the status report filed before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court today said that on April 12, the girl approached the Police Station Handwara with a grievance that she was molested and dragged and slapped by two local boys while coming out of a public lavatory in the Main Chowk Handwara in district Kupwara. The report further says that the girl stated that while molesting her modesty the boys exchanged some disgraced words towards her. 'Accordingly a case vide FIR No. 130-2016 u-s 509 (Uttering any word of making any gesture intended to insult the modesty of a woman) 354 (outraging the modesty of woman) and 341 (wrongful restrain) of RPC was registered in Police Station Handwara', it adds. The report states that hue and cry in town was raised by some subversive elements against the Army personnel alleging forcible molestation of the girl by the Army. The allegation of molestation, status report reveals, provoked the locals and the news spread like wild fire in the whole town. 'The situation took an ugly turn and violent mob gathered in the Main Chowk. To disperse the mob and tackle the situation the Army personnel resorted to firing, resulting in death of two persons besides inflicting injuries to some youth and in this regard FIR u-s Section 302 RPC stands registered in police station Handwara', the report reads. The report says the father and daughter fear for their lives and requested for protective custody and accordingly both were allowed to stay in the Police Station for a night and all necessary steps were taken. 'Curfew was imposed in the town under the orders of authorities and despite imposition of curfew the whole district Kupwara witnessed huge protests against the killing of the civilians and during these protests two more youth lost their lives. In this back drop the girl and her father apprehended enormous danger to their lives and denied to leave the Police Station thereafter they were shifted to the house of a father's friend and their identity and location was kept hidden to the mother of girl, so that they may remain safe and secure as such no question of wrongful restrain or wrongful confinement does exist', report says. About the recording of statement of girl and her father (u-s 64 of CrPC), the report says that the Investigating Officer approached the CJM at his residence with an application for recording of statement. 'However, the CJM owing to Gazetted holiday declined to record their statement and directed the IO to produce the witnesses on next day for recording their statement', the statement said. 'On the next day it was submitted, both were taken to CJM with the application who transferred the said application for recording the statement of the witnesses to Judicial Magistrate Handwara and thus he (Judicial Magistrate) recorded the statement of both witnesses after making thorough enquiries', the report reads. The report says: 'After recording of statement and leaving the court room, the father of the girl immediately approached the CJM with an application seeking police protection and the application was forwarded to police authorities for necessary action under law.' In the meantime, Jammu and Kashmir High Court today directed the authorities to take steps for meeting of counsel and mother with the minor girl. Justice MH Attar has been informed that the PIL has also been filed regarding the issues which have been taken in the petition and court with these submissions directed for listing of the matter with that PIL with the observation that 'there can't be parallel proceeding in the case' when Division Bench is seized of the matter. 'In the aforesaid circumstances, it will be appropriate to direct listing of this case along with PIL No. 7-2016', Justice Attar directed. Court has also been informed that the concerns and issues about the minor girl have also been delineated and reliefs have been sought about girl's protection and about her so called detention in the police station and the legality of the statement recorded by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Handwara. The direction for facilitating meeting the girl has been passed after the submissions of counsel representing mother of the girl that he and her mother be permitted to have access to the minor girl. Incidentally the PIL filed by Bar Association was also listed today before the Division Bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Tashi Rabstan and after hearing both counsels representing Bar as also to respondents, DB issued notice to the authorities for filing of response to the contentions raised in the PIL by or before next date of hearing. DB also asked Advocate General of the State to assist the matter on next date of hearing directed listing of the matter on April 26 for further consideration. It may be mentioned that the High Court had directed Superintendent of Police Handwara and Station House Officer Handwara to declare law and authority under which these persons (girl, father and aunt of girl) have been kept in police custody. 'It is further provided that the respondents shall produce these persons before nearest court of Learned Chief Judicial Magistrate or Judicial Magistrate', court had directed. Petition of the petitioner (mother of girl) submits that the minor girl has been taken into illegal custody by the Superintendent of Police Handwara and SHO Handwara on April 12 and on the next day minor girl's father and maternal aunt have also been illegally detained by these two officials as these persons have not committed any offence. It was submitted before the court that these persons have been kept in illegal detention which is in flagrant violations of Article 21 of the Constitution of the country. It was also brought to the notice of the court that the authorities including SP and SHO Handwara are hell-bent to force the detenues (minor girl, her father and her aunt) to make some statements before the Print & Electronic Media, which in law is not permissible.