Mother of minor girl gives statement (Image via Rising Kashmir)
A mother from Handwara, Indian Occupied/Administered Kashmir whose daughter has been held by police following an allegation of sexual assault against an army person has now given a statement. Khurram Parvez Programme Coordinator Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and Chairperson of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) said, “we recorded this video of the Mother of the Handwara sexual assault victim after the Government banned the press conference and kept all of us in preventive custody.”
Military blocking entrance yesterday… “This is JKCCS office and real face of our Kashmir” (Posted by Shafi Nadiya)
The incident sparked protests in throughout the region with 5 people killed, named as Nayeem Qadir Bhat, Muhammad Iqbal, Jehangir Ahmad Wani, Arif Hussain Dar and a woman Raja Begum… see following link for full story,
“Kashmir police lays siege to JKCCS office, press conference with family of alleged assault victim banned”
English translation of the testimony of the mother of the girl who is at the center of these latest killings by the Indian forces in Kashmir posted by Khurram Parvez
“Our youth’s have been martyred. My daughter left for school early morning. The school closed at 3:30. She is 16 years old. She went to washroom on the way home. An India army man entered the bathroom. She screamed and the people and shopkeepers crowded around the place. The army man ran away. The youth reacted to this attack and police also came. My daughter was arrested. We knew nothing of this till then. The youth started pelting stones at the army and the police. Their Muslim sister was attacked, would they not do it? This is why the pelted stone. And the army fired and martyred the protestors.
Are they not my sons? I am devastated by their killings. My daughter was arrested and the army man escaped. We know nothing since 5 days about our daughter. The army called us at 1 a.m. in the night of 12 April. They asked us to come and take our daughter home. Our daughter was alone when she was made to give testimony under force. There was no one with her, no family. You see she has been exposed in the video. Her face is there for all to see. Her testimony has been given under duress.
We, her parents were called and asked to take her home. I sent my sister and her father but instead of releasing my daughter they were also detained. My daughter is under duress; she is innocent, only 16. She is just a child, and under custody. I want my daughter, my husband and my sister back.
I have only received one phone call since they have been detained. I am on bed rest and cannot move around too much. I have back problems. It’s the 5th day today [of their detainment]. I am thankful to my Kashmiri community who protested to save my daughter. This should not happen to any other woman tomorrow.
We have filed a case in court. Those who committed these murders should not investigate this case. How can murderers investigate? My daughter has been brought into disrepute by using her this way. They have maligned her. My daughter’s honor should be resurrected, she is everyone’s daughter, and our boys who have been martyred; their cases should be investigated. They are responsible for killing them.”
One video posted on YouTube with English subtitles
Another video posted was disputed as having incorrect subtitles.
In a further twist to the story Indian Express reports,
“The girl, who is at the centre of the Handwara molestation storm, has recorded her statement before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in which she stood by her earlier statement that she was not molested by any army soldier on Tuesday.
The girl along with her father was presented before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Handwara last evening and her statement was recorded, police said in a statement.”
The statement appears to relate back to an earlier statement alleging a different version of events where the claim according to police is that as the girl came out of the lavatory she “was confronted, assaulted and dragged by two boys and her bag was snatched among whom one boy was in school uniform.”
There are differing versions of events. How can the facts be verified? What process is there that can be seen as independent and where those involved can speak freely without feeling under duress? Human rights activists do not know is what is going on behind the scenes. The girl appears to have given an initial statement unsupervised without a lawyer present to represent her.
Amnesty India (a Amnesty International India is a national office of Amnesty Online) tweeted the following,
J&K authorities must immediately release a teenage girl and her father and aunt detained in ‘protective custody’ by the police in Handwara
Pending their release, they must be granted prompt access to their family and lawyers.
“A teenage girl who has been allegedly sexually assaulted needs to receive sensitive and respectful treatment from the authorities”
A senior state police official told the media that the family had asked for police protection, but the girl’s mother has denied this claim.
JKCCS said that it was denied permission by the state police to hold a press conference with the mother of the teenage girl.
The mother has said that family members have not been allowed to meet the three detainees.
“The police has not given us any valid reason for keeping these three people in protective custody.” – Khurram Pervez of the JKCCS.
“The act of recording a video statement of a minor girl in the absence of her family violates a minor on multiple counts”- Pervez
J&K High Court has asked state govt to respond to allegations of illegal detention. The case will next be heard on 20 April.
Questions must be asked and satisfactory answers given regarding concerns. Without credible witnesses present this is a human rights nightmare… Did the girl speak freely or was she coerced into changing her story? Khurram Parvez posted on his Facebook page, “the statement of the Handwara sexual assault victim recorded yesterday at CJM Handwara court according to Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society is a result of continuous illegal detention of the girl and her father. We will respond formally tomorrow after acquiring the copy of her statement.”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.