Amnesty International welcomed release of 16 year-old Danish Farooq, who was detained in police custody in Srinagar for 16 days. He was bailed out at approximately 10:30 pm on 4 December from Khal Krud police station in Srinagar. .
“We are deeply relieved that Danish was released and has been returned to his family, but we know that there are many more cases like his where individuals are locked up on arbitrary grounds or as in Danish’s case, minors detained in regular police custody instead of being provided the safeguards guaranteed by international law to protect minors,” said Raheela Narchoor, Researcher for Amnesty International based in India.
Shortly after his release, Farooq’s lawyer, Babar Qadri, thanked Amnesty International “for supporting the fight against the abuse of law, and abuse of position by the J&K police. However, much is yet to be done. There are hundreds of cases of human rights abuses in J&K and I hope that Amnesty will consider these cases as well.”
Qadri said that he believes that the response of rights groups like Amnesty International and local media coverage succeeded in placing pressure on the authorities to release Farooq rather than re-arrest him again.
Farooq was first arrested on 19 November under sections 152, 138, 148, and 147 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC). All charges relate to incidents of “stone-pelting.” After three days of arbitrary detention in police custody without any legal grounds, he was produced in court, which ordered his release on bail, Amnesty International said in a statement.
Before any release Farooq was re-arrested on 23 November under sections 307, 285, 336 of the RPC for “attempt to murder” for his alleged involvement in a petrol bomb attack.
Amnesty International was deeply concerned that authorities in Jammu and Kashmir arbitrarily detained Farooq and treated him as an adult rather than a child.
The J&K Juvenile Justice Act, 1997 (JKJJA) defines minors in Jammu and Kashmir as boys 16 years old or younger, and girls 18 years old and younger, which is inconsistent with both the national Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC), which India ratified in 1992, to establish laws and procedures specifically applicable to children, and to define minors as all individuals younger than 18.
Amendments to The JKJJA changing the definition of a minor to those under 18 years of age will be taken up for discussion at the winter session of the J&K legislative assembly, according to media reports,
“We hope to see this JKJJA amended soon and call on legislators to support this crucial amendments,” said Narchoor.