J&K Police Admits 144 Children Detained Since Aug 5, Refutes 'Illegal Detentions': Reports
The J&K Police has admitted to have detained 144 children since the 5th of August, 142 of whom have been released since, a 52-page-report submitted to the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Srinagar High Court said.
The Juvenile Justice Committee under Chairperson Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey compiled a 52-page-report consisting statements from Director General of Police of Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir and Mission Director of Jammu and Kashmir Child Protection Society, which identified the specifications of minors arrested, detained, sent to juvenile homes and released.
In the report, the J&K police have admitted to have detained many 9 and 11-year-olds.
Out of those admittedly detained, 86 children were picked-up under ‘Preventive Detention’ provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure in areas said to be affected by stone-pelting and other disturbances.
Since Article 370’s abrogation, many petitions have been filed for hearing in the Supreme Court and one of those that asked for a probe into the detention of minors, was heard on the 1st of October in front of a bench comprising of justices N. V. Ramana, M. R. Shah and B. R. Gavai.
Child rights activists – Enakshi Ganguly, co-founder of HAQ and Shanta Sinha, founder-secretary of MV Foundation which has rescued over 10 lakh children from labour – had filed a plea in the Supreme Court on the 14th of September seeking its intervention into the matter, asking it to direct the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court for a status report.
Arrested for stone-pelting, rioting, causing damage to public and private property, pubescents particularly of the male gender, have been kept in ‘Observation Homes’ (one in Harwan, Srinagar and the other in R S Pora, Jammu) as per the report submitted by the committee.
The J&K Police has also detained four minors under the Public Safety Act – introduced by the government of Sheikh Abdullah to prevent timber smuggling allowing the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.
The law, often slammed for being misused and draconian, has an age bar for detention.
During the course of its investigation, the committee was informed that 36 and 10 juveniles were lodged in Harwan’s and R S Pora’s observation homes respectively since the 5th of August, out of which 21 and 6 were bailed out of the detention centres and an inquiry regarding the 15 and 4 remaining in Harwan and R S Pora was ongoing.
However, in the report, the DGP has categorically refuted the assertions and allegations made in the media and the petition, The Telegraph reported.
“No child has been illegally detained by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir”, he said and added that media reports on the matter were of ‘fictional imagination’ and ‘sensationalism’ meant to ‘malign the police’.