On October 2nd, the Press Trust of India reported that 144 juveniles were detained in the Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre had abrogated provisions of Article 370 on August 5.The Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that 144 juveniles were detained in the state after the abrogation of Article 370 and children as young as 9 and 11 year old were on that list. However, the committee added, 142 minors were later released while the remaining two were sent to juvenile homes.
During the hearing before the top court on Tuesday, a bench of justices N V Ramana, M R Shah and B R Gavai told senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha, that it has received a report from the Juvenile Justice Committee of the high court, in which the averments regarding alleged detention of minors have been denied.On September 20, the apex court had asked the committee to undertake an exercise with regard to the facts stated in a petition filed by the two child right activists, who have alleged that minors were illegally detained in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre scrapped the special status of the state under Article 370.
The four-member Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, headed by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, said in its report that when the September 23 order of the apex court was brought to its notice, a meeting was immediately convened to ascertain the facts from the agencies concerned.
Citing information provided by police and other agencies, the committee gave details of the cases under which these juveniles were detained.“It may be added here that in certain regular habeas corpus petitions (before the high court) challenging regular detention orders passed by district magistrates against them under the Public Safety Act, the detainees have claimed to be juveniles,” the committee stated.
The Jammu and Kashmir DGP also filed a report on September 25 in which he categorically refuted the assertions and allegations made in the media and the petition.
Similarly, the DGP report also referred to various reported incidents which appeared in the print and online media, including some foreign publications, and the averments made in the petition and categorically denied them.
The committee, in its report to the top court, has also said that two observation homes have been established in the state — one at Harwan in Srinagar and other at R S Pora in Jammu.
Thirty-six juveniles were lodged in Harwan’s observation home since August 5, out of which 21 were bailed out while enquiry regarding 15 was going on, it said.
Ten juveniles were lodged at R S Pora observation home from August 5 till September 23, out of which six were bailed out while enquiry against remaining four was going on, it added.
The detention of children spans the whole of the Kashmir valley, from Sopore in the north to the southern district of Shopian, with a large number from the region’s main city of Srinagar, the committee also reported.