The violence in Handwara town in Kupwara district has taken the state of Jammu and Kashmir by storm. Dozens have been injured in the violent clashes across the state triggered by an alleged molestation of a teenage girl by an Army personnel.
In the latest development, the Municipal authorities in Handwara, on 19 April, removed three army bunkers from the main market place.
Here is a look at five developments which shaped the incident:
1) On 12 April, an angry mob took to the streets to protest the alleged molestation of a girl student by army personnel from 21 Rashtriya Rifles. The mob pelted stones and tried to burn a bunker of the Indian Army in Handwara town. The army retaliated by opening fire on the crowd, which resulted in the deaths of three people and injured a few.
- Among those shot dead was 19-year-old Nayeem Qadir Bhatt, who was the first cricket player to be selected from the Kupwara region to participate in the India U19 cricket camp. He reportedly stopped at the protest to hand over a camera to his brother Zahoor Qadir, who reportedly works for a local news agency.
2) The Army released a video of the girl late on 12 April. The video, shot in custody, shows the girl saying that a boy grabbed her bag, pulled her and molested her. The police and the army said the video was proof that a soldier had not molested the girl. The girl's mother later said she was pressurised into making the statement.
- That same night, Raja Begum, a woman in her fifties was reportedly shot while working in the fields. She died in the hospital the next day.
3) The Handwara violence incident triggered more protests, spreading to Srinagar and Pulwama districts of Kashmir. Mobile and internet services were suspended in the state. Separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir declared a general strike on 13 April and criticised the Indian government. Five people were killed in the protests, including the deaths on 12 April.
- In the wake of the unrest, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the security personnel involved in the killing of the youth would be given exemplary punishment. The army ordered an inquiry while the Jammu and Kashmir Police registered a criminal case and began an investigation into the incident. Accusing anti-national elements of falsely implicating the Army, the BJP demanded a thorough probe into the Handwara incident.
4) On 16 April, the State High Court directed the police authorities to explain why they had kept the minor girl, her father and aunt under their custody after the incident. The girl was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Kupwara. However, according to the police, she didn't make any mention of molestation by security forces.
- On 18 April, the police reportedly registered a murder case against 21-Rashtriya Rifles (RR) of Army in Police Station Handwara for the firing incident that led to the killing of three persons. Mobile services were restored in the state after three-days of disruption. A circular was also issued asking admins of WhatsApp news groups in the Valley to register themselves and their groups for monitoring purposes.
5) Late on 18 April, the Army arrested a student, Hilal Ahmed Bandey, in connection with the molestation of the 16-year-old girl whose allegations had sparked the protests. The manhunt for the second accused is reportedly still on.
- Giving in to the long pending demand of the locals the Municipal authorities in Handwara, on 19 April, removed three bunkers and erected a board on the premises of the bunker, marking the place for conversion into a public park. The curfew in Handwara town was lifted temporarily.