Tribune News Service
Srinagar, October 18
Inside a cramped one-room ramshackle house, a nine-year old boy trembles with fear whenever someone talks about the police and lockup.
The class IV student became the youngest detainee in Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370. Coming from an impoverished family, he is one of the 144 minors detained by the police during the two-month-long clampdown.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court submitted the list of 144 minor detainees to the Supreme Court last month. While the report claimed that the boy was taken into preventive custody under Section 107 of the CrPC on August 7, two days after the scrapping of the state’s special status, and released the same day, the family said he spent two days in lock-up.
According to the list, boys as young as nine, 11, 12 have been detained by the forces in the last two months. Interestingly, one of the detainees is a 17-year-old Hindu orphan boy from Meerut, UP. He has been charged with serious offences, including rioting.
The youngest detainee boy claimed that he was thrashed first and later detained in the police station following some clash between the protesters and the forces.
“I was sent by my grandmother to purchase bread. When they detained me, I showed them the bread. They still thrashed me and I started bleeding and they took me to the police station,” he said.
According to his grandmother, she, along with her husband, rushed to the police station once they came to know about the detention.
“We waited outside the police station until 2 am and still they did not release him,” she said.
A senior police officer in Srinagar said the boy was detained in live action.
“The boy was involved in stone pelting. He was detained and released the same day,” the officer said. “He was counselled for the next two days and each day we allowed the boy to go home. When we call them for counselling, the family thinks he is in detention, which is not true. Each day the boy was called for counselling, he was allowed to go home.”
The police also denied the charges of thrashing the boy. The boy was raised by his grandparents after his mother died when he was five-month-old. His father abandoned him and his sister, a few years elder to him. The boy, the family said, was released two days later.
“After his release, the police asked us to bring the boy each day to the police station, but we requested them not to ask for his daily attendance. Later, we got 20 locals who signed a bond guaranteeing his good behaviour after which we were not harassed,” the grandfather said.
The boy is now scared to move out of his home.