Silencing the victims, how Handwara is aggravating the woes of the Kashmir
Recent incidents in Jammu and Kashmir’s Handwara more than anything else, establishes one point, the ubiquitous presence of security forces with right to fire at people, is only aggravating the political problem in the northern state. The girl who complained against Army for molesting her is now in police custody. And official version is that she is put under protective custody. After two days, the authenticity of the video the army released, in which the girl is complaining against the locals for violence has come under the scanner. The mobile video was filmed inside a police station and it is reported that a male voice is heard pressuring the girl to accuse the locals for instigating violent protests.
The 16 year old is in what the police describes in the protective custody for three days. On Thursday the girl’s family went to the police station seeking her release, but the police also detained her father. According to a relative of the girl, the police told her father that they want to hand over the girl to the family. But when he reached he was also detained. But the police told the media that the girl and father are in custody because they asked for protection.
But various rights organisations have accused the police of illegally detaining the girl and her father and alleged that the video which purportedly shows the girl accusing the locals of instigating violence were made forcefully.
Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society in a statement said “the manner in which the video has been recorded and then circulated is a gross violation of the special protections afforded to minors particularly during investigation of sexual assault cases”.
The Handwara incident is not the first and in all probability not the last incident in which the people is dissatisfied with the way in which inquiry is conducted in cases involving right violations. Human rights groups claims this is the eight incident in the last 14 months where the authorities have failed to come up with time bound enquiry report.
Soon after the PDP-BJP alliance government took over, 22 year old Farooq Ahmaed Bhat was killed in a police firing in Palhalan area. The government ordered inquiry into the incident and the sub divisional magistrate was asked to submit a report in 15 days. Civil society activists allege that the authorities have not come out with the report, even after local people took to the street demanding punishment for those responsible for the killing. Like this various human rights activists cites several examples of killing and violence in which no action has been taken.
After the Handwara incident, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has asked the security forces to abide by the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) while dealing with public protests.
Kashmir based political parties, including the ruling PDP have been pressing for abrogating the AFSPA which gives security forces additional powers to deal with protests. They allege AFSPA is responsible for the spike in human rights violations in the valley.