Skip to main content

Lawless law? Detained at 14 under PSA, J&K authorities recorded his age as 22...

Rauf Ahmed Wagay, Zubair Ahmad Shah
Counterview Desk
The Amnesty International India’s controversial report “Tyranny of a ‘Lawless Law’: Detention without Charge or Trial Under the J&K Public Safety Act”, released after the top international NGO was refused permission to hold a media conference in Srinagar, hasn’t just confined itself to analyzing 210 case studies, reportedly about the plight of the people who had been detained under  PSA between 2012 and 2018. It also documents how the Act is "misused" to detain minors.
“In some cases, detainees have been detained multiple times under different detention orders, most of which have been challenged and quashed by courts”, Amnesty states, adding, this is being done despite the fact, in 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (to which India is a state party) urged the government to review security-related laws with a view to prohibit administrative proceedings against persons under the age of 18.
The “abuse” of minors is also taking place, insists Amnesty, even though in 2013 the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act was promulgated, providing for children “to be treated according to the juvenile justice laws”, with Section 4(1) of the Act mandating the constitution of Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs), which are specialized institutions to adjudicate cases involving children in conflict with the law.
While JJBs have been set up in all districts in J&K, Amnesy says, the instances it has recorded suggest that “executive authorities have ordered the detention of minors, even when presented with evidence of their true age”, underlining, “In no case did the authorities appear to try to determine the age of the detainee.”

Excerpts

On September 16, 2016, Rayees Ahmad Mir, then 16 years old, was arrested in Baramulla under ordinary criminal procedure for allegedly throwing stones at security forces. Two days later, he was ordered to be detained under the PSA, and transferred to Kot Balwal Jail, where he was held with adult prisoners. The detention order stated that he was 18 years old, and that he was being detained as “there is every likelihood of [Mir] being admitted to bail”.
Rayees Mir’s family challenged the order before the J&K High Court, producing a school certificate to show that he was 16. In October 2016, the Court stated that Rayees Mir should be treated according to juvenile justice rules, as there was prima face evidence that he was a minor, and ordered his transfer to a juvenile home.
In December 2016, the High Court quashed the order, stating:
“How learned District Magistrate has exercised powers in itself clear (sic) means that he has not perhaps gone through above referred provision otherwise he would not have ordered detention of a minor.” Mohammad Ibrahim Dar was only 14 when he was detained under the PSA in May 2017. The detaining authority recorded his age as 22. The High Court quashed the order in October 2017, after examining his school certificate. In other cases, too, authorities appear to have not taken minors’ age into account when passing detention orders.
Danish Hassan Dar was ordered to be detained in March 2017, and again in April 2017, under the PSA. His birth certificate and school certificates indicate that he was 16 years of age at the time, but the detention orders declared that he was 20 years old.
Amnesty International India was unable to find any procedure laid down for the police or the district magistrates to determine a person’s age before detaining them. A former District Magistrate who served in J&K between 2008 and 2012 said that executive officials depend entirely on the dossiers given to them by the police.
On condition of anonymity, he told Amnesty International India:
“The District Magistrate relies on the police machinery…Once they are making a recommendation, the District Magistrate will obviously ordinarily go by that, unless somebody has already given an input that the age mentioned in a particular dossier is not correct…A District Magistrate is not equipped, and in fact he is not expected also looking into the questions that are questions for judicial determination.”
Rauf Ahmed Wagay
When the J&K police arrived at Rauf Ahmed Wagay’s home in Kulgam in early May 2017, the 17-year-old was asleep in his room. “I was beaten and taken to the local police station,” Wagay said. “When I was being taken away from my home, in the middle of the night, I was emotionally broken. I could see my family helplessly watching and pleading before the police.”
Wagay said he spent the night at the police station and was taken the next morning to a police camp where, over five days, he was beaten and given electric shocks. He said he was then shifted to a Joint Interrogation Centre in Anantnag where he was detained for another 15 days. 
While Wagay was in police custody, his father showed evidence of his age to the police to prove that he was a minor. But, Wagay said, “The police categorically avoided taking any such document or proof as they were adamant to send me to jail.”
On May 29, the Anantnag District Magistrate passed a detention order against Wagay under the PSA, stating that he had been involved in an attack on paramilitary personnel in April 2017. He was then moved to Kathua district jail in Jammu, about 250 km from his house, where he was held for four and a half months. His family filed a petition in the J&K High Court seeking his release on the ground that he was a minor.
The District Magistrate, in his response to the Court, questioned Wagay’s age, saying: 
“The detenue is a major and the certificate annexed with the petition cannot be relied upon as in the earlier times, in villages the admission were being granted to the children without giving any documentary proof.” 
However, the District Magistrate did not offer any evidence himself about why he believed that Wagay was over 18. On 12 October 2017, the High Court quashed Wagay’s detention.
Since his release, Wagay said his life has not been the same.
“After my arrest and detention my father could not properly work and support the family, as he had to run around – visit government offices, police stations, courts and jails…My family is now more concerned about my safety and security... The police still visits me occasionally, and usually checks my cell phone.”
Zubair Ahmad Shah
In September 2016, 17-year-old Zubair Ahmad Shah was arrested near his home by the police. 
“I had left my house to buy vegetables. The policemen caught me and started beating me severely. They caught a few other boys as well. They stripped us and kept us naked…It was embarrassing… They wanted to show what they can do.”
Shah was taken to two police stations where, he says, he was detained for the next 15 days and tortured. “I was beaten in police custody and it hurt me physically for many days. I was thinking about my family all the time – what they will be going though and how much worried they will be.” “When I was asked about my age, I told them I was 17 and even showed them my identity card,” Shah said.
Instead of being released, however, he was detained under the PSA on 19 September for allegedly being "a regular stone-pelter". The grounds of detention were virtually identical to the police dossier, which said that Shah was 22 years old. He was then moved to Udhampur District Jail in Jammu, where he was detained for over a month. His family filed a petition before the High Court, providing his school-leaving certificate to show that he was only 17 years old.
The petition also added:
“Further the mother of the juvenile detenue expired few days back due to the shock and depression she suffered due to the detention of the juvenile and the family was not in a position to break the news to juvenile as he is lodged far away and may not be able to withstand the shock given his tender age and the circumstances he is in.”
The High Court ordered that Shah be moved to a juvenile home on November 9, 2016, and he was released soon after. He said that his mother’s death during his detention was the "biggest tragedy... I could not see her as a free soul. This will always hurt me in my life.” 
Shah said:
“The PSA detention is a blot on my life forever now. You need police verification for many jobs and services which is very difficult for me to obtain now.” He now runs a canteen in the school he studied at before his detention. “When booked under the PSA,” he said, “books are bound to slip away from your hands.”

Comments

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Youth as game changers in Lok Sabha polls? Young voter registration 'is so very low'

By Dr Mansee Bal Bhargava*  Young voters will be the game changers in 2024. Do they realise this? Does it matter to them? If it does, what they should/must vote for? India’s population of nearly 1.3 billion has about one-fifth 19.1% as youth. With 66% of its population (808 million) below the age of 35, India has the world's largest youth population. Among them, less than 40% of those who turned 18 or 19 have registered themselves for 2024 election. According to the Election Commission of India (ECI), just above 1.8 crore new voters (18-and 19-year-olds) are on the electoral rolls/registration out of the total projected 4.9 crore new voters in this age group.

Mark Lee: A spiritual leader who thought conventional religions are barrier to liberation

  By Harsh Thakor*  The Krishnamurti Foundation of America (KFA) lost Roger Edwin Mark Lee, who was a devoted disciple of Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the greatest and most self realised spiritual philosophers of our time. Mark passed away due to pneumonia complications on April 6, 2024, at he Ventura Community Memorial Hospital in California. His exit was an irreparable loss to the spiritual world.

Fossil fuel projects: NGOs ask investors to cut TotalEnergies’ main sources of finance

By Antoine Bouhey, Lara Cuvelier, Helen Burley*  Reclaim Finance has joined 58 NGOs from around the world, including Banktrack, in signing an open letter calling on banks and investors to stop participating in bonds (loans granted by investors and facilitated by banks) issued by TotalEnergies. The 58 NGO signatories include 350.org , Amazon Watch, BankTrack, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR, Papua New Guinea), Justiça Ambiental (Mozambique) and Friday for Future (Uganda), Oil Change International and Urgewald (Germany).