J&K teen retracts statement, says soldier molested her
The teenager whose molestation triggered a wave of protests across J&K alleged that an army soldier had molested her and accused police of forcing her to give a false statement. Supported by the J&K Coalition of Civil Society, the girl stated that police also forced her to give the statement in a CJM court. She added that her life was threatened by the police.
People gathered in large numbers in Handwara (J&K) over the alleged molestation of a girl student by an Army jawan. The protesting locals began pelting stones at the Army bunker in Handwara chowk. To stop the assault and disperse the crowds, security forces deployed there opened fire. 2 youths Mohammad Iqbal and Nayeem Qadir Bhat were killed in the firing and another critically injured.
The opposition parties National Conference (NC), Congress and CPI(M) demanded government action against those involved in the Handwara firing in Kashmir Valley. NC president Farooq Abdullah and working president Omar Abdullah said the J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti should ensure that the guilty are punished and the truth comes to the fore. Congress and CPI(M) too demanded an investigation into the matter.
District magistrate Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Lone announced that the curfew would not apply to the members of the Sikh community because of the Sikh festival of Baisakhi.
A day after the Handwara firing the army released the video statement of the girl who had been allegedly assaulted. In the statement, the girl said that she was assaulted by a local and not an army official. The army said it regretted the firing and the deaths but cited the video as evidence that there was an "intention to malign" the army.
An inquiry was ordered by the army into the killing of two youths during an alleged firing by soldiers in Handwara. J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti said that exemplary punishment will be given to the army officers as such incidents "cannot" be tolerated. Lt Gen DS Hooda, heading the strategic Udhampur-based Northern Command also said tangible action will be taken once the probe is complete.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti asked the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for a "time-bound inquiry" by Centre into the Handwara firing, where 3 youths, including a budding cricketer, died under Army's fire. Parrikar assured a speedy probe into the matter. Mehbooba also met Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu separately on her maiden visit after assuming the post of J&K CM.
Mobile internet services were suspended in Kashmir to check spreading of rumours by anti-social elements. Services have been unavailable to subscribers in Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora and Ganderbal districts of Kashmir. Residents of Srinagar and south Kashmir also said they were unable to access mobile internet services. Officials said the suspension was a temporary measure and services would be restored as soon as possible.
Another youth was killed in north Kashmir's Kupwara district when the armed forces opened fire on a group of protesters. The protests were being held to oppose the death of 3 youth in Handwara. When the clashes became violent, the security forces had opened fire. The class 11 boy and 2 others were hurt. When rushed to the hospital, the boy was declared dead.
The mother of the girl, whose alleged molestation by an army man triggered the recent protests in Kashmir, claimed that the police had put pressure on the girl to change her statement. She said an army man had actually molested her daughter, and people in the area came to her rescue. The army and police have denied the claims made by the girl's mother.
The teenager from Handwara who was allegedly molested by an army soldier, stood by her original account while recording her statement at the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Handwara, Jammu&Kashmir. She stated that she was not pressured to change her statement and that she was molested by two local youth. Her statement was recorded in the presence of the CJM and her father.
The J&K police arrested Hilal Ahmed Bandey for the alleged molestation of a girl in Handwara, the incident that triggered a cycle of violence in north Kashmir. Hilal with another youth had manhandled the girl on April 12 when she was coming out of a public restroom in Handwara. The manhunt is on to search for the 2nd person to unravel the entire controversy.