Srinagar: The Kashmiri student who was reported to have been molested by an Army jawan leading to violent protests in the north-western town of Handwara, has denied the reports and said two local youth had harassed her.
The girl claimed that local youth spread tales that she was molested by an army jawan inside a public lavatory. The rumours sparked protests, leading to the deaths of three people when security forces opened fire in Handwara to quell the stone-pelting mob on Tuesday.
A video released by Army on Wednesday shows the girl saying that she along with another student went to a public lavatory close to an Army camp at the main town square to defecate and while she was coming out a local youth in school uniform suddenly turned up at the scene questioning her presence there and said ‘Kashmiris have not perished as yet.’ There had been some misunderstanding about the girl’s presence in a lavatory close to an Army camp.
A video released by Army on Wednesday shows the girl saying that she along with another student went to the public lavatory close to an Army camp at the main town square to defecate and while she was coming out a local youth in school uniform suddenly turned up at the scene questioning her presence there and said ‘Kashmiris have not perished as yet.’ There was some misunderstanding about the girl’s presence in a lavatory close to an Army camp.
Flabbergasted at his remark, she asked the youth to explain the reason behind the rebuke. The youth “refused to listen to me, he abused me, slapped me and then snatched my bag”. The youth also insisted on her going to nearby police station to file a complaint. In the meantime, another youth identified by the girl as Hilal Bhai appeared at the scene and started shouting, inviting the attention of the passerby. Soon a huge crowd gathered at the scene, chanting slogans against Army over the alleged molestation of the girl by an Army jawan.
“I told him Hilal Bhai you know our family, you have been to our house and know about the atmosphere that exists there. Do you also believe in what is being said,” the girl says adding “It seems they had sewn it up”. The girl further says that it was Shaffi Uncle (a policeman) who took her bag back from the youth.
The Army said it has not filmed the video. It, however, also said that the Army has verified the authenticity of the video and identity of the girl. “The video is being released after obscuring the face to protect the identity of the girl keeping in view the sensitivities involved,” defence spokesman Lt. Col. N. N. Joshi said here.
Meanwhile a shutdown called by separatist parties over the killing of two youth and an elderly woman in Army firing in Handwara has brought life to a standstill across Kashmir Valley whereas a security clamp down is being enforced in parts of summer capital Srinagar by hundreds of police and CRPF personnel fanned out overnight to prevent protests and violence. However, members of minority Sikh community are being allowed to visit Gurudwaras and famed Mughal gardens to celebrate Baisakhi.
Shops and other businesses are closed while public transport is off the roads in Srinagar and elsewhere. Baisakhi is an official holiday in educational institutions and government offices. Officials said that security restrictions are being enforced in areas falling under police station of Rainawari, Nowhatta, MR Gunj, Khanyar, Safakadal and Maisuma in Srinagar and confirmed that these will not apply to the members of the Sikh community “who are free to move about in areas placed under restrictions because of the festival of Baisakhi”.
Handwara, about 72-km from here, has been placed under indefinite curfew. The local police has detained dozens of the youth following Tuesday’s clashes and sealed the town after laying Concertina razor wire on the roads leading to it, reports said.
Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, on Wednesday morning met Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, in New Delhi to discuss with him Tuesday’s Army firing on protesters in Handwara. “During the meeting, the Chief Minister called for a time-bound inquiry into the incident so that those responsible for the deaths are handed exemplary punishment. This, she said, will act as a deterrent against such incidents in future,” an official release said.
It quoted Ms. Mufti as saying that such incidents shake the confidence of the people and adversely impact the efforts of the State government in consolidating peace dividends. “She also said the loss of lives of the innocent civilians cannot be compensated by whatsoever means. However, she urged the Defence Minister to announce adequate compensation to the families of the victims, who have suffered such an irreparable loss”, the release said.
The Defence Minister, it added, assured the Chief Minister of a detailed time-bound probe to fix the responsibility in the firing incident.