October 2019 News

9-year-olds Among 144 Minors Detained In Kashmir Since Article 370 Abrogation: Reports

1 October 2019
India Today
Aneesha Mathur

New Delhi: Children as young as 9-years-old had been picked up under preventive detention in the immediate aftermath of the August 5 lockdown in Jammu and Kashmir, a report filed before the Supreme court on Tuesday said. The report filed by the four-judge Juvenile Justice Committee (JJC) of the J&K High court, however, maintains that the detainee' children were released from custody on the same day as their detention' and no child was kept or taken into illegal detention by the Police authorities as strict adherence is placed on the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. The four-member JJC, which includes justices AM Magrey, DS Thakur, Sanjeev Kumar and Rashid Ali Dar of the J&K High court, has not made any comments on the inquiry conducted, but has reproduced the report filed by the DGP Srinagar, who has 'categorically refuted the assertions and allegations made in the media reports' and the PIL. According to the data attached to the report, 144 children under 18 years of age had been picked up by police between August 5 and September 23 this year. Eighty six of these children were picked-up under Preventive Detention provisions of the Criminal procedure Code in areas said to be affected by stone-pelting and other disturbance'. The remaining children were arrested under allegations of rioting, stone-pelting, causing damage to public property, wrongfully restraining movement of persons and attacking police personnel. An 11-year-old was picked-up under section 107 under CrPC provisions from Batamaloo on August 5, while a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old from Batamaloo were picked up on August 7. All these children were released the same day they were detained, according to the chart filed by police. The four-judge committee of the high court has taken note of the report filed by the DGP, which has denounced media reports of alleged arrests and beating up of children as fallacious and based on media reports that have no evidentiary value. The police report cited by the JJC states, Child welfare committees are effectively working in the state and the petition is only an exaggeration to settle some political score and to demoralise the state action which has only been within the parameters of Law. The police in its response to the Committee has also questioned why reports from foreign media and digital media networks carried stories of allegations of arrest and torture of children which were not there in local media. In addition, police have said that children who were detained were released 'after counselling' by the police and had been 'apprehended in his own interest as it was apprehended that the juvenile would fall in the company of violent mob and exposing himself to moral, physical and psychological danger.' The report denies allegations of the mass detention of children in Pulwama, Pampore, Awantipora and Khrew, even as the data submitted with the report shows arrests- detentions of minors under 18 from Parimpora, Budgam, Sadder, Soura, Sopore, Batamaloo and other areas. Detention or arrest of minors was also reported in the month of September, with FIRs registered for rioting, stone-pelting and other offences in Sopore, Bomeri, Rajbagh and Pulwama. This indicated the protests have been taking place in these areas. The report also includes data from the Juvenile Justice Homes in Jammu and Kashmir- at Harwan (Srinagar) and at RS Pora in Jammu. According to data, three boys, one 13-year-old and the other two 15-year-old, from Budgam were admitted to the Harwan Shelter home after detention under preventive detention provisions on August 16 and were released on bail on August 19. The JJC, in its report, has observed that it has been 'taking requisite steps to ensure that the provisions 0f the law concerning juveniles are effectively implemented.' The petition filed by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and former NCPCR chairperson Shanta Sinha had raised concerns regarding allegations of arrests and detention of children in J&K. The petition had cited several news reports from Indian and foreign media agencies. The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justice NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai on Tuesday took note of the report filed by the High court committee and had questioned whether the issue of alleged violations of child rights should be sent to the high court for monitoring. The matter is now set to be heard on October 16 as the petitioners have been given time to consider the report and file their response.