Muslim children not spared torture, bullet by UP police: Report
At least 41 Muslim children faced extreme physical and mental torture in the ‘illegal’ custody of the Uttar Pradesh police in Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Varanasi and Lucknow districts, claimed an independent fact-finding report. Two minors sustained bullet injuries during police firing in Lucknow, the report alleged.
At least 41 Muslim children faced extreme physical and mental torture in the ‘illegal’ custody of the Uttar Pradesh police in Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Varanasi and Lucknow districts, claimed an independent fact-finding report.
Two minors sustained bullet injuries during police firing in Lucknow and two others are still in the custody of Firozabad police, said the report titled ‘Brutalising Innocence: Detention, Torture and Criminalization of Minors by UP police to quell anti-CAA protests’, released on Thursday (February 13).
The independent fact-finding report has been jointly compiled by Delhi-based legal advocacy group Quill foundation, child rights organisation Haq and Citizens Against Hate, a group formed in 2017 to help victims of hate crimes. In their testimonies to the team, the minors claimed they were abused with communal slurs and subjected to several other forms of indignities in addition to physical assault.
“All the detained minors whom we (or fact-finding team) spoke to testified that they were beaten with police batons/lathis and made to witness violence inflicted by police on the detained adults. Tortured children returned home with bruised body parts and fractures,” said the report.
According to the report, in Bijnor, police made no sleeping arrangement for the detainees even when the temperature dipped to six degrees Celsius at night. The detainees were not allowed to sleep and were beaten if they did, it alleged. It said during detention, minors were denied basic rights like access to drinking water and food. They were beaten and rebuked for asking for water or using the toilet, the report claimed.
In Muzaffarnagar, the report claimed police denied water to minors, who were fasting (roza) on their detention day, to break their fast. They were abused and so were their religious figures, and were forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’. In most cases, UP police reportedly physically and emotionally threatened minors and asked them not to attend any more protests.
They were released only after their guardians signed affidavits testifying that there had been no ill-treatment or torture at the hands of the police, the report alleged.
Meanwhile, in Varanasi, the news of burial of the minor, who died in police action, was silenced, the report said, adding that the burial was conducted under extreme police surveillance. It said the UP police have publicly displayed posters with mugshots of protesters, including minors, in an attempt to intimidate and induce fear within the citizenry.
Calling for a judicial enquiry into the systematic targeting of children, Nidhi Suresh from The Quill, told The Federal, “No official response on police action against minors has come from the executive, the judiciary, or the national human rights institutions.”
“The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), with its exclusive mandate on the protection of children, has chosen to respond with a statement cautioning citizens and police on the use of minors in protests. Instead of condemning police brutality, this hands them the power to do it with impunity,” she said.
Bharati Ali from Haq said India is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1992 and thus, it is committed to protecting children from all forms of violence. She said India is also committed to ending all forms of violence against children and work towards strengthening the right of every child to live free from fear, neglect, abuse and exploitation.
“The government is in the process of preparing its fifth and sixth periodic report to the UNCRC Committee. Will it explain why the child protection system in the country continues to fail its children? Was the system sleeping when parts of the country, particularly Uttar Pradesh, was witnessing illegal detentions? Can this be justified in the name of National Security if that is a reason at all to unleash violence on citizens, especially those officially recognised as children?” Ali sought to know.