By News Desk
For the third time, the case of the 16 year old girl under unlawful police detention and subject to daily intimidation and harassment was heard by the Division Bench, Jammu and Kashmir High Court with a simple prayer: that she be set free. The Handwara minor girl has been video recorded [that in turn was widely circulated by the army], slapped, spat at, had her phone snatched, personal space violated, randomly moved around, been under constant surveillance and kept detained. All of this against her will.
The petition of the mother of the minor girl had been clubbed with the PIL filed by the Bar Association and was to be heard today. Beyond the important legal issues, the main thrust of arguments to be advanced today was that the minor girl be set free and out of the oppressive police custody immediately. It was to be argued that other issues could be dealt with subsequently. The court heard the Advocate General and the President, Bar President, for close to three hours on the PIL. The respective counsels were heard on matters of fact and law. Before hearing full arguments from the counsel of the mother of the minor girl stressing the production of the girl before the court as even suggested by the Advocate General, the court rose after directing that the matter be listed on 2 May 2016 and the Government of Jammu and Kashmir and Union of India file their responses. Counsel for the minor girl sought to pass on an application from the girl to the State Women’s Commission [SWC] wherein the minor girl had yesterday requested the Chairperson for urgent relocation to Srinagar and had cited the specific intimidation she had been facing from the police. The court directed this document to be filed formally with Registry. Counsel for the minor girl was also unable to place on record that the minor girl today was stopped by the police from leaving for Srinagar from Zachaldara, to observe the High Court hearing and later also meet with the Chairperson of the SWC, Nayeema Mehjoor.
The High Court is a constitutional court with wide powers including, in some respects, greater than even the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the minor girl has to face continued police custody.
Earlier in the morning, when the minor girl and her family were prevented by the police from leaving from Zachaldara, the minor girl spoke on phone with the Chairperson, SWC, who asked her to pass on the phone to Masroor Ahmad, the Divisional Officer of police chowki Zachaldara. Masroor refused to speak to Nayeema Mehjoor. Later JKCCS representative had a meeting with Nayeema Mehjoor and formally handed over the copy of the letter written by the Handwara minor girl. The Chairperson SWC stated that she would visit the minor girl soon and look into the possibility of bringing her to Srinagar. JKCCS informed the Chairperson SWC that on the one hand, government claims that the minor girl and family are not under preventive detention, and only protection is being given to them, but on the other hand the Police is brazenly regulating her movement and even today prevented her from visiting the High Court and the office of the SWC.
JKCCS believes that through these lies and restrictions the government wants to break the will of the minor girl and her family to continue their struggle for justice, which of course will lead to culpability of Police and government officials.
Press release: 26 April 2016
Spokesperson Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society