Police say they were held only for ‘counseling’
Srinagar: As many as five school-going children, the youngest being seven years old, have been detained at Soura Police Station on charges of stone pelting during the past three weeks.
The parents of a few of these kids who spoke to Kashmir Reader that the children have been in the lock-up between two to six days and were finding it very traumatic.
The boys are studying in class 3 (released today), class 5, class 7, class 8 and class 10—might be booked under serious charges, the parents did not reveal all details about the detained boys.
“Police officials threatened my son that he would never see the light of a day if he did not reveal names of local youths who have been pelting stones at the forces. They scared him by several means and tactics,” a parent of one of the detained boy said.
Locals said another youth who was selling cigarettes on a kiosk was bundled into a police vehicle a week ago.
“The detentions have created anger among the people especially the youth,” said Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Soura.
“At a time when it is relatively peaceful the concerned police station is forcing youth to hold demonstrations and pelt stones by arresting children,” he said.
On February 9, when clashes erupted at main market Soura, police picked-up two vendors and allegedly damaged their goods and carts.
“One among them has been released, however, another one is still in the lock-up,” they said.
Many vendors no longer dare to sell their wares in the market for fear of arrests.
Station House Officer of Soura Police Station Showkat Ahmad told Kashmir Reader, “We apprehended a few youths including a few minors and we have video recording of these boys throwing stones at the forces. The majority of them were released after providing them counseling. We keep them here only for counseling and later hand them over to their family members.”
He, however, said a few people agitate atmosphere and disturb traffic on this route which is vital because of SKIMS hospital.
“We only arrest those against whom we have proof. No one has been picked up unnecessarily. A few youths were caught when they were blocking road near Sabzi Mandi and they are still in the lock up,” he said.
On detaining minor offenders, Director General of Police SP Vaid told a newspaper recently that at times police “was left with no option but to detain minors who pelt stones at forces and engage in protests.”
“We need to have Juvenile Homes for them where they would feel comfortable. There have to be Child Care Units across J&K. We are lagging behind on this front,” he had said.
“We have only one Juvenile Home in Kashmir and it is far behind compared to other states. We don’t have facilities to handle juveniles. Some minor offenders even fled from the Harwan Home,” he had said.