Handwara Killings: Rights Group Seeks Investigation into the Role of SWC



Handwara Killings

Srinagar based rights defender group, JKCCS, Sunday demanded investigation into the role of State Women’s Commission chairperson in handling the case of Handwara minor girl.

“Ms Nayeema Mehjoor, Chairperson, State Commission for Women (SCW), has been seized of the case of the Handwara minor girl since 17 April 2016 when a member of the SCW met the girl and father at their location of custody, and 22 April when she herself met the minor girl and her father at the SCW office in Srinagar.

The legal team of the minor girl, representing her before the High Court through her mother, had advised the girl and her family to seek the assistance of the SCW as the priority was the immediate release of the girl from oppressive and debilitating police custody,” JKCCS statement said this afternoon.

Last month, protests erupted in North Kashmir’s Handwara after an alleged molestation bid by an army man then posted in main chowk Handwara. Five persons were killed in the protests following the alleged molestation of a minor student.

“The role of the SCW, and particularly Ms Nayeema Mehjoor, over the last fourteen days has been partisan, deceptive, against her mandate and extremely insensitive to the extraordinary circumstances in which the 16 year old girl finds herself. The SCW is an autonomous statutory body but Ms Nayeema Mehjoor has conducted herself as an arm of the government and police. Today, a local newspaper carried inaccurate and prejudicial quotes of Ms Nayeema Mehjoor regarding the minor girl and the case yet again,” the statement alleged.

“The minor girl and family in all interactions with Ms Nayeema Mehjoor, including in two written applications, have consistently maintained that: 1) they are under police custody against their will and they want to be immediately released, and 2) the statements made by the minor girl in the illegal video recording, and before the judicial magistrate, were under duress and do not reflect the real testimony of the minor girl.

Despite this clarity from the minor girl, Ms Nayeema Mehjoor has repeatedly been quoted in the media as stating that the girl is under ‘police protection’ and the news report quotes her as stating: ‘So far the girl did not change her statement. She repeated what she has deposed before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Handwara’. This is a complete misrepresentation of what the girl in fact told Ms Nayeema Mehjoor. Further, Ms Nayeema Mehjoor is prejudging and taking sides on the issue of whether the girl is under ‘protection’ or ‘custody’ when, in fact, this is the entire dispute before the High Court between the police on one hand and the girl and family on the other,” the statement added.

“Sexual assault cases, particularly involving minors, require of all persons a great deal of sensitivity and restraint. This is particularly important for individuals in public positions such as the Chairperson of SCW. Ms Nayeema Mehjoor has repeatedly misrepresented the girl and family, and effectively toyed with them over the last fourteen days. Ms Nayeema Mehjoor’s statements and interventions are, and necessarily must be, subject to investigations especially as the case is also before the High Court,” the statement demanded.

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