Freedom Under Fire: Handwara Teen Alleges Police Abuse; Protest in Raichur Against Attack on Dalits


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

The girl from Handwara speaking at a press conference on Monday. Credit: ANI/Twitter

The girl from Handwara speaking at a press conference on Monday. Credit: ANI/Twitter

Abused by cops, pressured to give statements, says Handwara teen 

The 16-year-old girl whose alleged molestation by an Army personnel had sparked violence in Handwara, leading to the death of five civilians in security force firing, on May 16, demanded the registration of a case against the accused soldier as well as the Handwara superintendent of police (SP), The Indian Express reported.

Last month, the girl had deposed before the chief judicial magistrate of Handwara saying that she was not molested by an Army man but by two boys. However, the girl said at a press conference that she had been pressured by the police to make such a statement. The girl was kept in “protective” police custody after the incident and released only last week.

She said the police abused and intimidated her inside the police station and that the SP recorded her video by “deception”. She sought registration of a case against him for “recording and circulating” the video. “I was taken into a room (inside the police station). There were three policemen there. Their faces were covered. They asked me what happened. I narrated the whole incident,” she said. “They told me that I should not say this to anyone because it would put my life and my family’s life in danger. When I asked them why I should lie, one of them slapped me and said, ‘Don’t you understand? You should say what we tell you. That will save you and your family’.” The girl said SP Ghulam Jeelani then entered the room. “He asked me what had happened. I told him what the three policemen had told me to say,” she said. “He went out of the room and returned a little later. He told me, ‘I will record this on a mobile’. I touched his feet and asked him not to share it with the media or anyone else. He recorded it by deception.” The girl said the police abused her and forced her to sign blank papers. She said one of the officers also spat on her, while another told her, “Do you have any idea how much blood has been shed because of you?” She said she filed her statement under duress and that she was also forced to file an application seeking police protection. 

Protests against attack on Dalit youth

More than 200 people from Harijanwada in Raichur, Karnataka gathered to protest on May 16 against the attack on three Dalit youth on Friday, a report in The Hindu says. They demanded the arrest of Congress leader Murali Yadav and his associates, accused of the attack. They have been booked under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The agitators raised slogans alleging that the police, accusing them of bending to pressure exerted by Congress leaders and protecting the accused.

Man arrested after wife’s parents commit suicide because of inter-caste marriage

M. Rashmi eloped with Sridhar, a realtor from a different caste and a tenant at her parent’s house in Bengaluru, on May 13. After they eloped, both of Rashmi’s parents killed themselves in a suicide pact. 

Rashmi attended her parents’ funeral on May 13, where her extended family abused her and accused her of killing her parents, The Hindu reported. Her family and others also harassed her on social media for going through with the wedding despite her parents wishes.

Sridhar was arrested on the same day after Rashmi’s grandmother filed a police complaint of abetment of suicide against him. Other relatives also filed a case of abduction. When the couple was produced before the tehsildar, Rashmi maintained that she was not under any duress and had left with Sridhar of her own volition.

Journalists hold candlelight march for murdered scribes

According to a report in The Hindu, journalists in the Delhi came together on May 16 to demand justice for journalists Rajdeo Ranjan and Akhilesh Pratap Singh, who were murdered in two different incidents in Bihar’s Siwan and Jharkhand’s Chatra districts. They also urged the government to immediately announce compensation for the families of the victims.

“This is the fifth condolence meet after the murder of journalists. If we do not take action now, we shall have to come again here for another. We plan to bring all the press clubs together and submit a petition to the Supreme Court seeking a law for protection of journalists,” said Rahul Jalali, president of Press Club of India.

“We need to have an insurance policy for journalists who work in conflict zones. The role of proprietors is very important here. Unfortunately, they just do not seem to care and protect their own reporter employees,”said Sushma Ramachandran, president of the Indian Women’s Press Corps.

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

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