‘Hilal baya’ arrested for ‘spreading rumours’ of molestation of Handwara girl

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir police arrested a civilian – Hilal Ahmed Bandey – who was among two people named by the Handwara schoolgirl in her statement regarding her alleged molestation by an army man last week. Police yesterday filed a case against those who, according to police, were involved in spreading ‘false rumours’ of molestation.

The schoolgirl had named him as “Hilal baya” (Brother Hilal) in her video statement, that was recorded in police custody and mysteriously leaked on social media on April 12. However, the girl had not accused him of molestation.

Narrating the incident, the girl had stated in the video that she was confronted by a schoolboy after she left a public toilet and the boy asked her if Kashmiris had died. “There was brother Hilal also. He slapped me. I told him that you know how our family is, why are you also saying the same thing?” the girl said in the video.

According to police, the girl, in her statement to Chief Judicial Magistrate, Handwara, said that she was “confronted, assaulted and dragged by two boys,” one of whom was in school uniform.

However, the schoolgirl’s statement was under question as her mother said that she was pressurized by police to give that statement. Also, the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society yesterday said that the schoolgirl was pressurized to record her statement – on video and in court – as directed by the police and none of her statements were made voluntarily.

Pertinently, five civilians were killed in army firing and tear smoke shelling in Handwara and Natnusa areas of Kupwara district after local residents in Handwara town accused an army man of attempting molestation on the schoolgirl on April 12.