Kashmir’s handcuffed children

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The five children looked distraught. Handcuffed, burly policemen hushed them inside the court premises Tuesday afternoon. They looked pale and had visible torture marks. People, many of them lawyers, inside the premises just gazed in distress as the children moved.



Mohsin Majeed Shah was one among the detained minor boys. He had a torture mark on his forehead, right between the eyebrows. His tiny hands cuffed as a policeman pushed him between the groups of men who stood gazing in bewilderment.

 

Mohsin’s mother had waited all day inside the court premises to see her 13-year-old son- a seventh grader at a local school. She says he was arrested last Sunday.



It was an emotional tryst between a mother and her son. Both wept and cried. His brother, two years elder to him, also wept. “Look what they have done to Mohsin,” he kept saying.

 



His mother had brought him fruits and snacks. She cried. Her dirge was unstoppable when she held him in embrace. She kept kissing his forehead, on the torture mark.


His family says Mohsin was arrested last week when he left his home at New Colony, Paplpora Noor Bagh, located on the fringes of Old City, to meet his maternal uncle at Rajouri Kadal.

 
An hour later, his brother called their mother to inform Mohsin was picked up by police and detained at a local police station.

 
Another boy was Burhaan Nazir of  Nalahbundpora, Nowshera. A 6th grader, he was arrested last week from the streets of Srinagar’s Old City.

 
“We were severely beaten in the police station and all we heard from policemen were just abuses,” Burhaan remarked, while policemen almost dragged him back from the court and bundled him into a waiting armored vehicle.

 
“They abuse my sisters, tore our clothes. I am afraid they will beat us again in the police station,” he cried. “They even abuse my mother, who is dead.” When he shouted everyone around froze for a moment.

 
He was lodged for the past week at Mahraja Gunj police station and will now be shifted to a juvenile home on directions of the court.

 
The other boys seemed minors, too. One wore a torn cloak. He looked frightened, when he was brought inside and out of the court house.

 
There was no time to know their name as police rushed them out in hurry and dumped them into a waiting police van.

 
The lawyers, who had assembled in the court premises, expressed shock as the detained children were whisked away.

 
“It was shocking for all of us to see this. We have for the first time seen boys so young being detained,” advocate Nasir Qadri says.

 
“They said we have been tortured and clothes have been torn. They have been severely beaten and there were visible torture marks on their bodies,” he remarks.

 
The police is yet to mention the ages of the boys detained on charges of rioting and arson.

 
Inside the court room, when the Judge asked the prosecution what their age was. The prosecution replied that he had ‘no information’.

 
“This is a brute use of force by state and this is beyond any comprehension of any jurisprudence or human rights and I think police stations have turned into tyranny centres,” another lawyer, Babar Qadri says.

 
The state government has been under pressure from human rights groups over the detention of minors in the Kashmir valley.

 
 
Under attack from human rights groups, it has already made amendments to the Public Safety Act under which minors were booked during the civil unrest last year.

 
 
Owing to the pressure from both within and outside the state, the government set up a juvenile home in Kashmir recently.

 

 

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