The Jammu and Kashmir Police have admitted to arresting 144 minors, including children as young as nine and 11, since August 5, when the Union government scrapped the state’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
According to data provided by the police, many children were released on the same day. All children “found in conflict with law”, the police claimed, were dealt with “in consonance [with] the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013”.
“If at all the juvenile in conflict with law has been subject to custody, the same has been placed in observation home under the orders of respective Juvenile Justice Board,” the police said. They also released a list of 36 minors who had been received at the superintendent observation home in Harwan, Srinagar, since August 5. Of the 36 sent to observation home, 21 were bailed out and 15 were under inquiry. Another ten minors had been sent to the observation home in RS Pura Jammu, of which six were bailed out and four were under inquiry.
The police said media reports on minors being detained and lodged in police lock-up “in violation of law” were “found not factually true”. Such reports served “facts imagined from thin air” to create stories “which may have element of sensationalism”.
These submissions were made to the four-member Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. On September 20, the Supreme Court had directed the committee to file a report on the alleged detention of children. It was responding to a petition filed by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha, seeking a probe on the detention of minors since August 5. The petition had cited a number of media reports, including those by Scroll.in, The Washington Post, Caravan, Quint and TRT World.
The director general of police “categorically denied the specific allegations made in the writ petition”, the juvenile justice committee noted. The committee submitted its report to a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on October 1.