Srinagar: On the fifth consecutive day of tensions prevailing in the Kashmir Valley over the alleged molestation of a girl in Handwara by an army personnel,the Jammu & Kashmir High Court on Saturday directed the police to cite the law under which they detained the girl who was allegedly molested.
The incident on Tuesday fuelled violent protests resulting in the death of five people.
The directive of the High Court came on a petition filed by the mother of the 16-year-old girl on Saturday seeking release of her daughter and two other relatives from "illegal detention" of police, counsel for petitioner Parvaiz Imroz said. In her petition, the woman pleaded that her daughter, husband and sister have been kept in illegal detention in violation of the constitutional rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The court has directed the Superintendent of Police of Handwara and SHO of the concerned police station to apprise the court of the law under which they have detained the minor girl, her father and aunt since the incident on April 12, the counsel said.
He said the court also directed the police to present the girl before the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Handwara for recording of statement. "The court has also said that father and aunt of the girl cannot be forced to appear before print or electronic media," Imroz said.
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Imroz also submitted before the court that the petitioner apprehends that the life of her minor daughter, husband and sister is in jeopardy.
The case has now been listed for next hearing on April 20.
Three people were killed in security forces firing on protesters on Tuesday, while another youth was killed on Wednesday at Drugmulla during protests against the earlier killings. As protests spread, another youth was killed during in Nathnusa area of Kupwara on Friday.
The girl, however, is believed to have denied that she was molested. The Army released a video of her purported statement in theis regard. However, the mother of the girl on Saturday claimed that she was pressurised into giving the video statement.
Meanwhile, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti visited the families of those killed since Tuesday in firing by security forces and assured them of justice amid her assertion that such incidents are "unacceptable".
Mehbooba reached out to the families of the victims in the hour of grief even as curfew-like restrictions continued in certain parts of Kashmir and mobile internet services were snapped throughout the valley.
Mehbooba visited and consoled the family of 18-year-old Arif Hussain Dar who was killed on Friday when the Army opened fire to disperse stone-pelting mobs outside a camp in Nathnusa area of Kupwara, 100km from here.
She visited families of other deceased as well.
"The chief minister met the kin of the victims who were killed since Tuesday in the district. She expressed solidarity with them and assured them that inquiry will be conducted and justice done," said an official who was present.
Mehbooba flew to Kupwara to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. She also chaired a meeting of local officers which was attended by deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh, minister for rural development Abdul Haq Khan, Handwara MLA Sajad Lone, chief secretary BR Sharma, DGP K Rajendra Kumar and senior Army officer.
She made it clear that no civilian should be harmed while security forces deal with law-and-order situation.
She said she had a telephonic conversation with defence minister Manohar Parrikar late last evening and also met Northern Army commander Lt Gen DS Hooda and told them that incidents like the ones at Handwara and Nathnusa are "unacceptable" and come as a major setback to the efforts of the state government in consolidating peace dividends in the state.
"I have told Gen Hooda to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with law-and-order situations," she said, adding the defence minister has assured her of time-bound investigation into the unfortunate incidents that led to the death of civilians during protests at Handwara and Natnusa.
While interacting with the members of the civil society, the chief minister sought their cooperation in restoring peace and normalcy in the frontier district.
(With PTI inputs)