From School to Police Station

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  • Publish Date: May 31 2016 2:55PM
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  • Updated Date: May 31 2016 2:55PM
From School to Police Station

Shabir Ibn Yusuf  retraces the girl’s fateful walk to home which triggered a series of incidents leading  to five killings in Handwara

 
 
A minor Handwara girl faced an ordeal as she was taken into police custody after she allegedly faced molestation attempt by a Rashtriya Rifles Army soldier. The incident  triggered outrage across Kashmir.
 Five persons including a 54 woman were killed in firing by people protesting against the alleged molestation attempt. Four youth were killed by Rashtriya Rifles soldiers while as one was killed by J&K Police.
 The girl, a resident of Ganie Mohalla in town lives only two hundred yards away from Girls Higher Secondary School (GHSS) Handwara, where she was studying in Twelfth class with Arts subjects. 
It all started after the girl was found in washroom, used mostly by the soldiers and at times by shopkeepers. Police sources say that boys studying in nearby Boys Higher Secondary School were first to start protests.  “They saw soldier inside. The boys started throwing stones at the bunker. They were demanding the identification of the soldier,” said a police official, who is part of the investigating team. 
“Situation would have been controlled. But when the demand for the identification of soldier gained momentum, the fire was opened. Two boys were killed,” he added. 
Shopkeepers and commuters say  they were busy with their own work. “People started marching towards bunker. Suddenly there were bullets and tear gas shells flying all over,’’ they said.
 On the day when the incident took place, the girl reported to school in time.  “She attended all the classes that day,” teachers of GHSS Handwara said.  “As usual she left school with her classmates at around 2.40 pm.” 
The teachers added that they never found anything wrong with the behaviour of the girl. “She was a decent girl,” teachers said. 
After leaving the school, the girl approached her home through Handwara town.
 Accompanied by her friend, the girl reached the Watchtower- cum-Bunker of 21 Rashtriya Rifles. She went to washroom, opposite to the Army bunker. She kept her friend waiting.
 In the meanwhile, Rashtriya Rifles soldier appeared in washroom. The girl screamed and within minutes dozens of people assembled outside the washroom, that included the shopkeepers, commuters and passersby. 
The assembled people, that also included students, protested and the girl was whisked away to Police Station. The protestors assembled in front of bunker and demanded arrest of the soldier. In the meantime, huge police column arrived on the spot. They fired in the air to disperse the protestors. The soldiers who were in the bunker opened direct fire that resulted in the killing of two youth, one from main Handwara town and another from Drugmulla Kupwara.
 Soldiers of 21 Rashtriya Rifles also opened fire that resulted into the killing of 54 old woman, who was working in her vegetable garden. 
While the protests were going on, cops shot a video of the girl in Police Station. That was leaked and it went viral within minutes after it was shot. In the video, the girl denied she was molested. 
For two days there were no whereabouts of the girl. Her father and aunt were called to  the police after two days and detained.
 Her mother approached, Right Group, Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) alleging that her minor daughter was forced by Jammu and Kashmir Police to give false statement to deny molestation by a soldier. She sought release of her daughter and her own husband from police custody.
   The girl told J&K State Women’s Commission that police shot her video by deception and she has been made vulnerable. She also told SWC that she wanted to continue her studies in Handwara only. “My face is known to all now. What do I do now?,” the girl told SWC.