Lawyer says Govt spoiling career of youngsters by registering FIRs against them
While police have launched an unprecedented crackdown on people who took part in street protests across Kashmir for the past three months, a ‘Juvenile Home’ located on the outskirts of Srinagar too has seen increase in the number of inmates in the wake of scores of minors detained during this period.
As many as 85 minors held on charges of stone-pelting and street protests were lodged at the Juvenile Home at Harwan since the July 8 killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
An official of J&K’s Social Welfare department, which looks after the facility, told Greater Kashmir that 85 juveniles rounded up on various charges were lodged in the Juvenile Home in the past three months.
“Of them, 77 have been bailed out while eight are still lodged here,” District Social Welfare Officer Srinagar Tariq Ahmad Reshi said.
Another official, who insisted not to be identified, said children aged 12 to 13 years were also lodged in the facility during this period.
“The police usually registers FIRs against them under different sections of Ranbir Penal Code, dealing with unlawful assembly, rioting, causing grievous injuries and endangering life and personal safety of others,” he said.
The official said the facility has never housed such a huge number of “stone-pelters”. “Quite often, we receive inmates accused of similar charges but the number was unprecedented in the past three months,” he said.
Kashmir’s noted lawyer, Mir Shafqat Hussain said the Government is not following due process of law while arresting juveniles.
He said the juveniles are kept in illegal confinement by police for days.
“Under law, a juvenile has to be presented before a court within 24 hours. But they are kept in illegal custody for 1-2 weeks and then only presented before courts,” he said.
He accused the government of spoiling career of these youngsters by lodging FIRs against them.
“This (lodging of FIRs) is badly impacting their psyche. I have myself seen scores of children with schoolbags attending court hearings regularly after they were charge-sheeted by police in the past,” he said.
Shafqat said he has also challenged detention of a few minors under the Public Safety Act.
“They cannot detain a minor under the law,” he said.
Program Manager of London-based “Save the Children”, a global NGO working for child rights, Sharif Bhat said the Government should follow the Juvenile Justice Act, 2013 in letter and spirit. “We have also imparted training to police in this regard,” he said. The Juvenile Home was set-up after human rights groups criticized the state government for not having such a facility.