Freedom Under Fire: HC Questions Police on ‘Detention’ of Handwara Girl; Two Arrested for Threatening Kanhaiya and Umar

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A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

Police in Srinagar last Tuesday. Credit: PTI Photo by S. Irfan

Police in Srinagar last Tuesday. Credit: PTI Photo by S. Irfan

Handwara killings: HC questions J&K police on ‘detention’ of girl, kin

According to a report in The Indian Express, the Jammu and Kashmir high court has asked the state police to explain the grounds on which they “detained” the minor girl whose allegations of molestation by an army man in Handwara led to protests. Firing by security forces on protestors have killed five people so far, leading to further protests.

On Saturday, the girl’s mother filed a petition before the high court, seeking the release of her daughter, husband and sister, saying they have been taken into custody illegally. Admitting the petition, Justice Muzaffar Hussian Attar directed the SP and SHO of Handwara to state the “law and authority” under which the three have been kept in police custody.

The court also directed the police to immediately present the three “before the nearest Chief Judicial Magistrate/Judicial Magistrate”. The court directed the police to not present the girl before media till April 20, the day her mother’s petition would come up for hearing. J&K police have been changing their statements regarding the minor’s detention. While DIG North Kashmir Uttam Chand has said the girl, her father and aunt are in “protective custody”, IGP Kashmir Javed Mujtaba Gilani has said the girl is “not in our custody and if she wants to meet anyone, she is free”.

Though the situation in Handwara had calmed down slightly and mobile internet was reinstated, but curfew was reimposed after fresh protests on Monday.

Two arrested for sending threat letter to Kanhaiya and Umar

According to a report in The Hindu, two young men have been arrested for allegedly writing a threat letter last week to JNUSU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid. The note was left in a bag in a DTC bus, along with a pistol.

Saurabh and Sulabh, both in their 20s, were called for questioning at Tilak Marg Police station on Sunday following which they were arrested, said the police. Both have been booked under the Arms Act and criminal conspiracy. Among the two, Saurabh is the younger brother of the main accused in the case, Amit Jani. Amit claims to be the national president of rightwing outfit UP Navnirman Sena and is still absconding.

Last month, it was Amit who had issued an ultimatum to the two students on Facebook to leave Delhi by March 31. He threatened the duo that in case they failed to do so, he would make sure they were “gunned down” by his volunteers.

Ayodhya temple by next Ram Navami, says Subramanian Swamy

According to a report in The Hindu, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Sunday said a grand Ram temple would come up in Ayodhya by Ram Navami next year.

Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are scheduled for 2017 and the issue is expected to take the centre stage. Swamy said there could be no compromise on the temples allegedly pulled down by Mughal rulers.

Swamy, who had moved the Supreme Court in February this year seeking construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya, said: “We have an extremely strong case in the Supreme Court and our victory is certain. If daily hearing of the case begins by July end, the matter will be over this year end. It will take only three months to erect a grand Ram temple and we will be worshipping Lord Ram in that temple by next Ram Navami.”

Ram Navami violence spreads in Jharkhand, curfew in Hazaribagh

According to a report in The Indian Express, Hazaribagh became the second district after Bokaro in Jharkhand to see curfew on Sunday as violence in the state over Ram Navami processions spread further.

Curfew was imposed in the municipal area and surrounding police station areas of Hazaribagh district after over a dozen shops and more than half-a-dozen vehicles were set on fire. Three deaths have been reported so far, though police say two of them are probably because of personal enmities.

Deputy Inspector General (Hazaribagh) Upendra Prasad said the trigger for Sunday’s violence was an “objectionable” audio recording played on loudspeakers by a Ram Navami procession. The recording talked about this being a country of Hindus, angering minority communities who then allegedly threw stones at the procession.

Hindu-Muslim couple gets married amid high security in Karnataka

An inter-faith marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man, which was opposed by some pro-Hindutva and caste activists, took place amid tight security in Mandya on Sunday, a report in The Indian Express says.

After being in a relationship for almost 12 years, Ashitha Babu (29), who belonged to the dominant Vokkaliga community, and Shakeel Ahmed (29) had decided to tie the knot.

While their families had been friends for years, some groups termed the alliance as ‘love Jihad’ and staged protests in the run-up to the nikah.

Couple tied to tree for eloping

A couple was tied to a tree as punishment for eloping by the father of the girl upon their return to their village in Banswara district of Rajasthan, a report in The Hindu states.

The incident happened on Saturday in the Arthuna area when the couple, living in Gujarat, returned to their village at the request of the girl’s father after running away in February, according to the police.

Locals informed the police about the matter following which the couple was rescued, police said. The girl’s father and another relative have been arrested.

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].

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