No child has been illegally detained by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir, the state administration has told a four-member committee appointed by the Supreme Court to look into allegations of illegal detention. The government, however, has admitted that 144 minors have been detained since August 5, and children as young as 9 and 11 year old are on that list, the committee informed the Supreme Court today.
According to the state police, the minors have been detained for stone pelting, rioting, causing damage to public and private property and they have been kept in Observation Homes, read a report by the committee. The police have also dismissed media reports on the matter as "fictional imagination" and "sensationalism" meant to "malign the police," the committee said.
The report by the four-member committee headed by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey was submitted in court during the hearing of a petition by child rights activist Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha by a three-judge bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subash Reddy and BR Gavai.
After the activists' allegation that children were being illegally detained by the security forces, the top court had asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court's Juvenile Justice Committee to inquire into the allegations.
"No child has been taken into illegal detention. As and when any report in respect of a juvenile in conflict with law is received, the said juvenile is dealt strictly as per the prescribed law on the subject," the report quoted the police as saying.
"It happens often that when minors/juveniles indulge in stone pelting, that they are momentarily held up on the spot and sent home. Some of these incidents are exaggerated beyond proportion," the committee quoted the police as saying.
The committee had asked the Additional Director General of Kashmir Police to submit a report on the matter. It had also sought details of bail applications moved on behalf of juveniles in lower courts as well as the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
Besides the activists' petitions, the three-judge bench is hearing a clutch of petitions on Jammu and Kashmir, while other petitions questioning the legal validity of the government's move to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two union territories are being heard by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court.