Schoolchildren are still in jail

Moradabad: Nearly four months after they were detained by the police, three Muslim schoolchildren are still in the district Jail here, unable to get bail for an offence their distraught families claim they never committed. The children have been charged, among other things, with rioting and attempt to murder. But now, finally, hope seems in sight with the National Human Rights Commission sending notice on the matter to the Senior Superintendent of Police of Moradabad. The key question is whether children can be kept in jail when the law requires that they be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board and sent to a remand home.

The children, along with 35 adults, were picked up on 6 July 2011—the day clashes broke out between the police and a section of Muslims over the alleged desecration of the Holy Qur’an by a raiding police party at Asalatnagar Bagah village, falling under the Mainather Police Station.

The families of the three children claim their wards had nothing to do with the violence and were on their way home from different schools (all English medium public schools) when they found themselves stranded because of the riots. The police say they have a video recording of the violence. However, the recording has not been shown to the families or to a fact-finding team, which later met the police.

The plight of the jailed children was brought to the notice of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and the NHRC by Syed Akhlak Ahmad, secretary of the Delhi chapter of the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights. Mr. Ahmad, who led the fact-finding team to Moradabad, concluded that the children were wrongly detained. Under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of children) Rules 2007, apprehended children have to be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board within 24 hours. 
MG News Desk
See fact-finding report, p. 5

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 November 2011 on page no. 1

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