Amnesty International Demands Release of a Kashmiri Teenager: Condemns Police Highhandedness
The Jammu and Kashmir authorities must immediately release or charge a teenage anti-government protester who was rearrested this week after spending three months in administrative detention, Amnesty International said.
Murtaza Manzoor, 17, was briefly released from prison on Wednesday after the High Court found that his administrative detention was unlawful. He was immediately rearrested by police.
"The police in Jammu and Kashmir are playing a game with the judiciary. Courts order a person's release only for the police to wait outside prison to re-arrest them. This farce should stop," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.
Murtaza Manzoor must be released immediately, unless he is charged with a recognizable criminal offence. If so, he should be remanded in custody by an independent court and his rights as a child should be recognized. The authorities must not order his repeat administrative detention."
Although he is 17 years old Murtaza Manzoor is being treated as an adult because the laws of Jammu and Kashmir define boys above the age of 16 as adults. This contravenes both Indian law and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Police arrested Murtaza Manzoor on 21 January in the state capital Srinagar. He was accused of attempted murder, assault and rioting, based on allegations that he led a June 2010 protest against the Indian government that turned violent and resulted in protesters rioting and pelting police with stones.
On 8 February, fearing that Manzoor would be released on bail, police placed him in administrative detention under the highly problematic Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows for up to two years’ detention without charge or trial.
At least 322 people are reported to have been detained without trial under the provisions of the Public Safety Act in Jammu and Kashmir from January to September 2010 alone. And the practice continues this year too.
A number of them, including children, have been detained on similar grounds of stone pelting and rioting during various protests against the Indian government. The deplorable plight of the children and the teenagers needs to be attended by the international community.