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J&K HC allows detained Handwara girl to meet her mother, lawyers

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:50 IST

The minor girl at the centre of the Handwara crisis has been allowed by the Jammu and Kashmir high court to meet her mother and lawyers. The high court on Wednesday directed the police superintendent to facilitate these meetings.

The girl has been in police custody since 12 April, the day she was molested at a washroom near an Army bunker in Handwara. Protesters turned violent after rumours that she had been molested by an Army man, and the police and Army fired into the crowd. Four people died in the firing.

On Wednesday, the court heard the habeas corpus plea for the immediate release of the girl, her father and aunt. The judge pointed out that the Bar Association had filed a PIL wil a similar appeal, and directed that the mother's plea be bundled with the Bar Association's and heard on 26 April.

"The consequence of today's proceedings is six more days of illegal police custody for the Handwara minor girl," said a statement issued by the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS), which is providing legal help to the girl and her family. " But the direction to SP Ghulam Jeelani Wani will ensure that for the first time since being detained the minor girl and family will have unhindered access to legal counsel."

The girl has twice stated that she had been molested by two boys, one in a school uniform, but her mother believes that she made these statements under duress, according to the Hindustan Times.

The police in the status report filed before the court on Wednesday said the girl and her father "on the request and choice of the father" were "shifted to the house of his friend".

However, the JKCCS says that father and daughter are being held in a "jungle-like" place against their wishes.

JKCCS spokesperson Khurram Parvez said that the girl had called them on Tuesday evening about her concerns about her detention. On their advice, she next called Kashmir IGP SJM Gillani, who hung up without letting her speak.

The girl later spoke to Nayeema Mehjoor, chairperson of the State Commission for Women, who has promised to help, says the JKCCS.

"I am in constant contact with girl and parents. Let us give priority to her safety," Mehjoor wrote in a comment on Parvez's Facebook post regarding the girl's detention.

First published: 21 April 2016, 7:34 IST