The Indian troops responsible for shooting down four unarmed protesters in Handwara, Kashmir yesterday immediately released a video interview of the young girl who was allegedly molested by an Indian soldier. The rumor of that assault is what set off massive protests. In the interview, we who don’t know the language are told she denies an Indian soldier molested her–a denial which has completely disoriented the discussion around the murderous actions of the troops.
You don’t have to be an authority on Indian law as it’s imposed in Kashmir or on police procedurals to say that authorities violated several laws in videoing that interview & releasing it to media within hours of the shootings. There is no evidence of a parent or attorney being present, a legal standard in interviewing a minor. This raises the issue of intimidation & manipulation.
Another issue is that her interview would be evidence in a criminal investigation about if & by whom she was assaulted or threatened. Why was it released to media, except to thwart justice & a proper police investigation?
It would be an enormous relief to confirm she was not assaulted; it would be horrific if four people died because they thought she had been. But it doesn’t change the criminal reality that unarmed protesters were fired on. They believed what may turn out to be a panic because sexual violence is such a part of the Indian occupation of Kashmir.
Without international protest to support justice, the criminal investigation by Indian authorities will be a sham, like always. But this young girl should not be pilloried in media & public opinion. No conclusions can be drawn based on her illegally obtained interview without an independent, open investigation that gets to the bottom of what happened.
Nothing changes the reality that shooting down unarmed protesters is a constant feature of the Indian occupation. May the four victims RIP.
Long live Kashmiri Intifada!