Army releases video of girl denying molestation charge

Battling charges of molestation against one of its personnel in Jammu, the Indian Army on Wednesday released a video it says proves the allegations “baseless”.

Violent protests had rocked Handwara in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir after locals alleged that an army trooper molested a girl on Tuesday when she entered a public washroom close to an army bunker in the main market area of the town.

Four people, including three in Handwara, have been killed as security forces fired shots at protestors amid a curfew-like situation.

In the minute-long video released by the army, the alleged victim blames a schoolboy, and not a jawan, of misbehaving with her.

She said an unidentified boy in uniform came up to the washroom as she was coming out of it and slapped her before screaming: 'have all the Kashmiris died?'.

“There was nobody in the bathroom and I don't know why the boy said 'have all Kashmiris died',” she said.

She said she screamed back at him for uttering such words.

The girl said the boy who slapped her snatched her bag and incited a few other boys standing there to slap her. Apparently, another boy, whom the girl said she knew and identified as “Hilal Bhai”, also slapped her.

“He asked me what I was doing there (in the washroom). I told him: 'you know me and my family, how can you say something like that?'”

She said the boy who first slapped her kept yelling at her and did not return her bag. Then an uncle, whom she identified as 'Shafi' asked the boy to leave and she got the bag back.

Defence spokesman Colonel N.N. Joshi of the 15 Corps in Srinagar said the video proves that the whole act was an attempt to malign the army.

“The video was recorded by the local media on Tuesday. We were waiting for its authentication. It was released by us only after it was authenticated. The whole action had a malifide intent to malign the army. Investigation will cover all aspects,” he said.

The incident has come at a time when the state government led by Mehbooba Mufti is battling the NIT crisis, precipitated by clashes between Kashmiri and non-Kashmiri students.

The clashes broke out on the Srinagar campus after some local students reportedly celebrated India's defeat to West Indies in the World Twenty20 semi-final.

Mehbooba, who has built a political fortune by championing the cause of the victims of assault by security forces, has sought time-bound action against the guilty army personnel.

The government has also suspended a sub-inspector for allegedly using disproportionate force on Handwara protesters.

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