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Despite court orders, J&K ‘minor’ stays in Jammu jail

On November 7, the court had directed authorities to shift the accused from Kotbalwal jail in Jammu, the biggest in the state, to a juvenile home in Srinagar.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | Srinagar |
November 21, 2016 4:02:57 am

ON Saturday, for the third time, the J&K government failed to produce before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court a ‘13-year-old’, who had been booked under the Public Safety Act for allegedly pelting stones at security personnel.

On November 7, the court had directed authorities to shift the accused from Kotbalwal jail in Jammu, the biggest in the state, to a juvenile home in Srinagar. While seeking that the accused be produced before court, the judge had also asked the government to submit a compliance report. Since then, there have been three hearings in the case but neither has the accused been produced in court nor has he been shifted to a juvenile home.

On Saturday, the court again sought a compliance report by Tuesday. Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir observed that the court “cannot afford” to keep a minor in jail. On November 7, Justice Muzzaffar Hussain Attar had observed that “prima facie, it appears that the detenue is a minor” and directed the authorities to shift the teenager to a juvenile home in Srinagar. Since then, there have been three hearings —on November 15, 16 and 19 — but the government counsel failed to submit the compliance report.

The J&K Police, in its dossier to the district magistrate while recommending the preventive detention of the accused, had said two FIRs have been registered at Hajin police station in Bandipora district against the accused — on September 2 and 11 — for allegedly pelting stones at police and paramilitary personnel.

Five days later, on September 16, the District Magistrate of Bandipora Sajad Hussain Ganai passed the detention orders against the accused and termed him a “stigma for peace-loving citizens”, adding, “the ordinary law of the land is not sufficient to deter and curb your nefarious activities”.

According to the school certificates of the accused, produced by his family before the court, he was born in March 2003. That makes him 13-year-old. The government, in its PSA dossier against him, however, declared him to be “about 18-year-old.”

According to the family of the accused, he studied till Class IV at a government school, but dropped out last year because of the poor economic conditions at home and worked as a stone-cutter. His brother, Jan Mohammad Mir, alleged that the boy was kept in the local police station for 10-15 days and later shifted to the Jammu jail. “We were not told why he was arrested,” said Mir, who works as a labourer along with his father Ghulam Rasool. Mir said the family had visited the boy only once in the Jammu jail.

When contacted about the accused, Inspector General of Police Syed Javaid Mujtaba Geelani said, “I have no idea. No juvenile can be detained under PSA. I am not aware. Let me check.” Geelani did not answer the phone when he was called again.

“The government has repeatedly failed to comply with the court orders and it is duty bound to rehabilitate the minor so that he is not exposed to any criminality,” said Nasir Qadri, counsel for the accused. “Where do you see minors put in a regular jail and court orders not followed?”

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