Handwara girl says Indian Army soldier assaulted her sexually
-Accuses police of ‘coercion’
“I was forced to accuse local boys”
Srinagar: In a new twist, the 16-year-old teenager, whose alleged molestation triggered a massive protest in Kashmir last month in April Monday, claimed that she was forced by the local police to record a statement in their custody.
While accusing police of exploitation, the Handwara girl during a press briefing here in Srinagar said: “They (police) told me not to tell the truth to anyone, they slapped me and warned me against revealing my version of the incident. Then the SP of the area came and told me that he will record my statement. I pleaded with him don’t record and don’t send it to anyone. What I was saying in the video was all what they forced me to say. I was all alone and none of my family members were there when they made the video clip,” she said.
“Police forced me to say things that they recorded and put up on the internet. Police told me not give my original statement, they said that will be safe for my family. I was kept in custody against my will. They made me sign on blank papers. I can’t write in Urdu. They made me write in Urdu and took our signature,” she said, flanked by her parents.
The girl was under “protective custody” for 27 days and was released only after court intervention.
“On April 12, 2016 I was subject to an sexual assault by an army man at a public toilet in Handwara. After I ran out of the bathroom, a crowd gathered. I recognized a policeman named Muhammad Shafi Watali who began to drag me to the Handwara police station. This was against my will as I asked him to allow me to go to my house. But, he did not leave me and he verbally abused me. I was taken directly to the Handwara police station. I was produced before the Munshi Khursheed. The behavior of the police personnel towards me was very hostile. The police personnel were abusive and threatening me. I was intimidated,” she claimed.
“Munshi asked my name. When I did not respond, the Munshi reached into my bag and recorded my name from my school books. He also asked me for my father’s name which I provided. The Munshi also took away my phones even though I said I wanted to contact my family members. He refused to return the phones to me. Aaround this time, a sub-inspector namely Mohsin stormed the room and verbally abused her. He came into the room and I noticed his name on his nameplate. He spat on me and left,” the girl said.
“After that three masked police men entered the room and asked me what happened. I told them what the army soldier had done to me. They told me, in very harsh tone, that I should not continue with this allegation and that I should instead blame the local boys. One of them even slapped me when I was refusing to change my evidence. Later, SP Handwara, Ghulam Jeelani came and asked to me explain everything. In distress and under pressure, I narrated what had happened while not revealing details regarding the army soldier. Jeelani Sahib then left the room and returned and told me he wanted to record my statement on his mobile phone. He promised not to make it public. Because of the pressure, and in light of being threatened by the policemen on what to say, I repeated my statement on video without putting any blame on the army and without mentioning what the army man had done to me outside the public toilet,” she said.
“Next morning, a known sub-inspector Shafi alias Moulvi Sahib forcibly took my signatures on blank papers. He also made me write an application seeking police protection and then forced me to sign it, thus spreading a word that my family voluntarily sought police protection.
“Policeman Moulvi Sahib informed me that my video was on the internet. He also told me and my father that we had to give a statement as per his instructions before the court. He pressured me to say that I was born in 1997. He pressured me to stick to the statement I had said in the recorded video. He told us to tell the court that we were staying in a relative’s house. My statement, and that of my father, before the court was therefore not a voluntary statement. When I gave my statement before the court my father was not allowed inside with me,” the Handwara girl claimed.
Her parents said she was pressured into changing her original version.
The teen complained that she was isolated by her classmates, who accused her of “suppressing reality.”
She said she will fight for her honor and for those who laid down their lives for her honor. The girl has now filed an application before the station house officer in Handwara to file an FIR of sexual assault against army personnel.
The press conference was organized by human rights organization Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society.
Pertinently, five people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces after the girl alleged that she had been molested by an Indian Army soldier. (CNS)