Srinagar: The 16-year-old girl at the centre of protests in Handwara that spread to other parts of the Kashmir Valley last month today came out with sensational allegations against the police that marked a complete turnaround from what she had told a court last month.
- Protests erupted after teen alleged she had been molested by a soldier
- But in video shot inside police station she said local boys harassed her
- Her parents said she was pressured into changing her original version
"The police recorded my statement against my will. They forced me to say things that they recorded and put up on the internet," the teen said, addressing a press conference in a hijab.
Five people were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces after the girl, who stays in Handwara, alleged that she had been harassed by a soldier. Protesters burnt down an army post in the town, provoking firing in which three persons including a young cricketer were killed. Two more were killed during similar clashes with security forces in Kupwara.
In a controversial video that emerged in the middle of the protests, the girl said she had been harassed by local boys but didn't mention any soldier.
Today, she said she was forced to make false statements and demanded an FIR or police complaint against senior officers in Handwara and the soldier she alleged had molested her.
"When I was exiting a toilet near an army bunker, a soldier forcibly held my hand. I screamed and ran away," the girl said. The army has denied the allegation.
The teen claims she was kept against her will in the police station after the incident. "They abused me, slapped me during custody. One officer even spat on me. I was crying because the police told me I'm responsible for all the killings. It was very traumatic and disturbing," she said, flanked by her parents.
Senior police officers said the girl's new version of events is motivated, and impelled by pressure from some groups.
The teenager was in protective custody for 27 days before she was released after court intervention.
When she returned to school, her classmates said she was not welcome and also accused her of "suppressing reality".