For Handwara Victim, It’s Tough Road Ahead
The 15-year-old schoolgirl needs to brace herself to face social ostracism in school and hometown
Handwara: As Kupwara district in north Kashmir limps back to normalcy after a bloody week of killings and protests, the minor schoolgirl under ‘protective custody’ has to brace herself for social ostracism at school and neighbourhood in her hometown Handwara.
The schoolmates of the victim — who as per school records is 15 years and six months old — and her neighbourswereangryoverhervideostatement allegedly recorded in a police station. The video shows her denying involvement of any army personnel rumoured to have molested her in a public convenience.
Her family claims that the statement was recorded under pressure. J&K High Court has sought the state government’s response on PIL seeking high level judicial inquiry into the alleged molestation incident and subsequent violence, and has also directed the police to facilitate a meeting of the girl with her father and lawyer.
The situation for the victim, who probably was at the wrong place at the wrong time, after five killings has turned too hot to handle — life will never be the same for her.
“She omitted some facts in her statement. And one of the important eyewitnesses Iqbal who was there was also killed during the protests,” a ClassXIIstudentof governmentgirls’ higher secondary school Handwara, where the girl studies, told ET.
Of about 1150 students, only 20 were presentonWednesdayinthecramped school campus, which opened after eight days. Some of her classmates claimed that they fear disruptions in their daily routine because of this incident. “It’s not about her any more. Allof ushavetobemorecautiousnow. Even if we want, she won’t be able to cope with the pressure any more,” said another schoolgirl, who studies in the same class.
However, the principal of the school, Mir Manzoor Ahmad, clarified that the school administration would welcome her back to resume her academic career afresh. “She is like any other student and why would we discriminate. She is going through a bad phase and we support her,” Mir told ET. Few hundred metres away from the school, the girl’s residence was locked and people were looking suspiciously at every person who enquired about her or the family. Her relatives refused to talk. “We all know she may not have done anything wrong, but her video statement has angered us all,” said a neighbour, who was also at the main chowk, when the incident happened last Tuesday. Many people were present on the first day when the incidenttookplace,whenshewasdragged to the police station and two people were killed, but nobody in the town is ready to narrate the events. JUST THE REMAINS
Demolished Handwara Army bunker.