Police on Monday booked a Myanmar refugee couple living here for allegedly putting chains on the feet of their 11-year-old son to prevent him from running away from a madrasa in Bhatindi, on the outskirts of Jammu city.
According to the police, the boy’s parents and the head moulvi at the madrasa, identified as Abdul Gafoor, have stated that the boy had run away from the madrasa earlier, too. His mother brought him back on Saturday and put chains on his feet.
The police acted on Monday after a local resident took a photograph of the boy and circulated it on WhatsApp. The boy was taken to the local police post, where the chain was opened and he was handed over to his parents.
Stating that a probe is on, Chandan Kohli, Sub Divisional Police Officer of Narwal-Jammu, said the parents have been warned and booked under Section 36 of Police Act. Action will be taken as per law, he said.
The parents claimed they had come to India through Bangladesh nearly four years ago. They arrived in Jammu three years ago and settled down in Narwal.
Admitting that it was an “inhuman” act, Gafoor said the boy had run away from the madrasa twice before. So when his mother brought him again this Saturday, ulemas (teachers) were not ready to take him back. “The mother was carrying a chain. She put it on her son’s feet and gave us the keys,” Gafoor said.
The madrasa is run from a slum cluster in Bhatindi. According to Gafoor, they provide boarding and lodging facilities to 160 children of Myanmarese refugees, and raise money through donations from local Muslims and mosques.
The boy’s mother admitted that she had put chains on her son’s feet. Her husband said they had earlier got him admitted in a state government school in Qasim Nagar area but, as the boy did not attend classes, they took him to the madrasa about six months ago so that he would be forced to stay there.
The madrasa is located by a big nullah — it has a slum cluster on one side and two- or three-storey houses in a relatively upscale area on the other. On Sunday, when other boys from the madrasa and some ulemas had gone to the nearby forests to collect firewood, the boy reportedly slipped out and went to the nullah. A resident from the locality on the other side said he spotted him in chains, clicked a photograph and sent it to some local Muslim leaders on WhatsApp and sought their help.
In response, a social activist named Arshad Hussain came, and together with the resident and head maulvi Gafoor took the boy to Bhatindi police post today.
The boy has two other siblings. The family said the father, who had come to India before the others, is yet to get refugee status.