"They Asked Him What His Caste Was And Then Arrested Him" Brother Of 14-Year-Old Dalit Boy Recalls
“My brother committed a crime of being born in the wrong caste, and I feel helpless as I can’t change it,’’ says 14-year-old Sachin’s elder brother, Kishan Kumar, who is running from pillar to post to get his brother out of jail.
On April 2, during the time of nationwide ST/SC ‘Bandh’, many children were arrested for allegedly disrupting peace in the area. Sachin Singh is one of the many Dalit boys who was arrested by Meerut police on that day. The family of the boy claims that he was randomly picked up by the police and despite being a minor, he is passed off as a 20-year-old in his F.I.R. While some kids were sent to juvenile homes, Sachin is still rotting in jail meant for adults.
Plight of an elder brother
A resident of Kaliyagarhi area, Meerut, Sachin got arrested in the afternoon, but till late night his family was unaware of his whereabouts. He has been booked under a list of serious charges including attempt to murder and Arms act.
“We got the news of his arrest from a neighbour. We soon rushed to the police station to inquire about the matter. When we asked the police about the nature of his crime they insulted us and threatened to put us in jail,” said 32-year-old Kishan, while speaking to The Logical Indian.
According to the family, Sachin was arrested on basis of his caste.
“My brother was on his way to meet his coaching teacher when he was picked up by the police. They asked what his caste was and then arrested him,” he added.
According to Sachin’s 10th standard U.P board online mark sheet, board exam hall ticket and Aadhaar card copy, he is 14 years and eight months old. Despite that, the police in their F.I.R copy wrote that he is a 20-year-old, due to which the minor is stuck in an adult jail for almost three months.
The family claims that when they went to provide Sachin’s document to the police, they misbehaved with them and completely ignored their plea.
“They called us ‘chamar’ and threatened to beat us,” said the 32-year-old.
Kishan, who is a daily wage worker, said, “We don’t have that much money. We can’t afford lawyer fees. Travelling regularly to court and back is already too much burden for our family. After all these hassles, we have to see our younger brother suffering in that hell. Tell us what should we do? What is our crime? Why is our innocent boy being victimised?”
Kishan lives with his old parents in Meerut. He belongs to Jatav community, which comes under Chamar caste, one of the “lower castes” that have been socially persecuted for many years in our country. Many people use the word “chamar” as a derogatory comment on somebody’s status and wealth.
Sachin is not the only one
Sachin is not the only victim. When The Logical Indian tried to get into the details of this case; it was found that there are more such cases in which the alleged minors were randomly picked up from different locations and are still languishing in jail.
Not far from where Kishan Kumar’s lives, 42-year-old, Nanakchand, a labourer shares his woes. “On April 2, my son Abhishek was supposed to come back from my sister’s place. When he did not come back till late in the evening, my wife and I got worried, and we started to look for him. Later, somebody from our neighbour told us that the police took our son and we went to different police stations with his photograph searching for him. At last, we found him at the Civil Lines Police Station, Meerut,” said Nanakchand.
He says, my 12-year-old son was drinking water near Chaudhary Charan Singh University when police first asked him about his caste and then arrested him.
Abhishek, a class VI student, was sent to a juvenile home. He has recently been given bail after two and a half month of detention. Abhishek’s father claims that he was also beaten up by the police and after many rounds of police station and court, they could get him out of jail.
Nanakchand, a father of three children, says his son is innocent, yet charged with so many cases. “I am trying to educate all my children. I don’t want to them to suffer because of their caste, but clearly the ‘upper caste’ administration will not let us survive,” he added.
While speaking to The Logical Indian over the telephone, Abhishek said that the Juvenile home’s condition is terrible. The big kids used to harass and beat him.
When asked about his neighbour’s son, Sachin, he said, “Yes I saw him on the first day at the police station, when some kids with me were getting transferred to the ‘chota jail’. Sachin asked to be sent to the juvenile home with us. But they yelled at him and kept him there.”
Advocate Satish Kumar, who is fighting Abhishek’s and another boy’s case says, “There are many minor boys like Abhishek who were randomly booked by the police on April 2. The cops have put almost the same charges on these children. Kids of 12-14 years of age have been charged with ‘attempt to murder’ and ‘dacoity’. The surprising part is that the cases against these children have been registered in two-three different police stations on almost the same time. How is that possible? How can a 12-year-old commit a crime at one place and then quickly go to another location? Why was the police not able to stop them?”
In another case, a 15-year old Rahul got arrested from Dauthua area, Meerut. Along the same lines, 14-year-old Ajay was also lodged in Meerut jail on April 2. Both the children are still in the stuck in the prison. All these boys have been charged under grave sections of IPC, including Section 147, 148, 149 (matters related to riots and mischief), Section 353, 435, 307 (attempt to murder), Section 352 (Punishment for assault) Section 395 (dacoity), Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 427.
Superintendent of Police, Shivram Yadav told, The Logical Indian that the investigation is going on regarding these cases. When asked about the discrepancy about Sachin’s age he said “His family never showed any of his documents. If we get any proof we will look into it.”
There are clear guidelines mentioned in the Juvenile Justice Act to ascertain age which can be found in Section 94 part (ii) of the Act. The first method involves submitting a high school certificate. It reads as follows: “The date of birth certificate from the school or the matriculation or equivalent certificate from the concerned examination board.
The Logical Indian also spoke to the Meerut based Social activist and Dalit leader Sushil Gautam. He said that since time immemorial, police have been unjust towards Dalits. He further said that the police department is lethargic and just because they want to fill their records, they wrongly pick up Dalits. On April 2, they made arbitrary arrests. If they would have been serious, then the people who were actually the predators of violence would have been behind the bars and not these innocent children, he laments.