CAA Protests | UP Cops Beat Detained Children for Sleeping: Report
Minors detained in Uttar Pradesh following widespread protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act were thrashed each time they fell asleep or wanted to relieve themselves after being supplied with abundant water, claims a shocking report released by The Quill Foundation.
The report, which is yet to be made public and has seen by The Quint, is based on discoveries made by the fact-finding teams of The Quill Foundation, Citizens Against Hate, Haq: Centre for Child Rights, along with media reports.
It asserts that at least 41 minors were subjected to rampant physical and psychological torture, all this while they were in police custody across Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Firozabad and other districts of Uttar Pradesh.
Maintaining that police brutality was concentrated in Muslim-dominated districts like Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar, both of which also house Islamic institutions with a pan-India student base, the report presses for “an immediate judicial inquiry into the treatment of minors, steps toward their rehabilitation and care, and official action against wrongdoers.”
Sticks The Price for Sleep
Citing a Huffington Post ground report and discoveries made by one of the fact-finding organisations, the Quill report points out that minor detainees in Bijnor – where temperatures dropped till 6 degrees in the night – were not even provided with a blanket and were merely handed a floor mat.
But the torture reportedly unleashed by the Uttar Pradesh Police didn’t just stop here. According to a 17-year-old boy who was detained, children were told that they could fall asleep only if they wanted to beaten.
Accounts presented in this report were further verified by one of the fact-finding teams, in which the 17-year-old’s mother said that her son and “other boys were forced to stay awake the whole night and if somebody fell asleep, they had to face merciless beatings”.
Drink Water, But Can’t Use Washroom
The torture unleashed on minor detainees, the report claims, was not just limited to physical violence. In order to expose the minors to psychological modes of torture, the police did not even provide them with water in Muzaffarnagar.
A report by one of the fact-finding teams revealed that detained students of a madrassa in Muzaffarnagar, who were fasting on Friday, were denied water by the police and were allegedly made to chant Jai Shri Ram.
The following is the statement from Syed Asad Raza Hussaini, founder and principal of the madrassa in Muzaffarnagar, from where students were detained.
While juvenile detainees were refused water in Muzaffarnagar, those in Bijnor were offered water, but given a beating when they wanted to use the washroom.
Hitting it Low
The report says the children were assaulted with lathis every two hours. The beatings, a detainee said, were aimed the the lower body parts, which left him in pain for over 15 days.
“Mostly they beat us on the lower parts of our body. I was not able to walk properly for 15 days. The police detained me on Friday and released me on Sunday night. Till then I was in custody where they beat me brutally.”
But why was the police torturing minors?
Quoting Scroll, the report asserts that the detainees were tortured in a variety of violent ways to ensure that they do not ever participate in any such protests. It was to deter any further protest and to etch the fear in the minds of the detainees that a police officer reportedly videocalled one his his colleagues and displayed to all detainees harrowing visuals of a guest house, where detainees were being tortured.
A Bid to Silence Them All
In addition, the report claims that the police had put up posters of protesters in public places in a bid to create fear in their minds. This was combined with vandalism of community homes in Raukhedi, Jalalabad, and Bijnor district where police reportedly threatened families to cooperate with the police.
"The policemen suddenly broke the door open and arrested S without asking or responding to any questions. The police also went upstairs and broke our household items...The police did this in many houses in the locality and any male member present in the house was being arrested. There were no lady police accompanying them even as they were barging into people’s homes forcefully. How can they do this? Who gives them this right?” asked F (initials only), whose brother S (initials only) was arrested.
In order to hide their brutalities, the police in Muzaffarnagar reportedly asked heads of madrassas to give in writing that none of their students were subject to any torture, as a precondition to their release.
Laws That Cops Violated
According to the report, the treatment meted out by the police amounts to grave violations of existing laws and must be subject to a judicial inquiry.
According to the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act (2015) and rules made under the law by central government and UP state government, no child is to be apprehended for petty or serious offence. If any child is held in detention, the police is required to bring this to the notice of district Juvenile Justice (JJ) Board to enable the latter to direct the authorities to make the child appear before it at the earliest. The child must also be placed in a special unit under the charge of a special juvenile police unit. The JJ Act grants every minor the right to privacy. Public disclosure of the identity of the child is an offence.
Under the United Nations Convention on Child Rights (UNCRC), clear guidelines have been laid out against torture of children. UNCRC also upholds child’s right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly. International law urges nations to prioritise the child’s well-being, survival and development.
In all the cases of violence against minors in UP, there is a clear violation of national and international laws, principles and guidelines.
Muzaffarnagar SP Rubbishes Claims
The Quint reached out to Muzaffarnagar Additional SP (City) Satpal (goes by first name only) who said all charges of police brutality on minors, as claimed by the Quill report were “completely false.”
When contacted, Bijnor SP Sanjeev Tyagi said he would only comments after reading the contents of the report, which has been sent across to him. This piece will be updated as an when we receive a response from him.