Bihar, Jan 20, 2020: Bihar police have arrested 13 minors and identified them as "adults" over anti-Citizenship Amenment Act protests on 21 December 2019 in town of Aurangabad turned violent. All arrested are Muslim youths, Yahoo reported.
Firstpost had earlier reported that Bihar Police had altered the age of two minor boys and passed them off as adults in the First Information Report (FIR). The next hearing is on 28 January when the Juvenile Justice Board will decide on their age.
Lawyer for the minors Meraj Khan said after the board’s decision he would move for their bail plea. Most of the minors are aged between 14 and 17, Khan said and added that while one is 13, another one is as young as 12.
The 12 minors have been lodged in adult prison for the past one month with hardened criminals, Khan said. Only one was sent to a juvenile home after he sustained serious injuries in both his hands during the police lathicharge. "It is a straightforward case. We have their birth certificates, documents and we have presented them before the Juvenile Justice Board on 16 January. On 28, the board will declare them juveniles."
Speaking about police incorrectly identifying all 13 as adults in the FIR, Khan said, "It has been done intentionally. There is no juvenile home in Aurangabad. It is under construction. The closest one is about 60 kilometres from here in Gaya. If the police had written their accurate ages, they would have had to hire a separate vehicle, and travel to Gaya. The police did this to avoid that extra effort."
When contacted, Aurangabad SP Dipak Baranwal said that the case is an "old one now" and he "does not remember the details". "Speak to the SHO, he will give you all the details," he told this reporter. SHO Ravi Bhushan refused to speak and hung up.
On 21 December 2019, the town of Aurangabad had observed a protest at Ramesh Chowk, where most of the gatherings and speeches are usually held. Rashtriya Janata Dal and its allies had called for a bandh to rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). But the peaceful protests turned violent near the end.
The police in Aurangabad had arrested 46 people the same day, and named more than 80 in its FIR. The FIR blames local councillor Sikandar Hayat for the violence. The bandh called by the RJD ended around 12.15 pm, the document noted, when suddenly a mob of 200, led by Hayat, emerged at the scene. "The mob started beating up shopkeepers, asking them to shut shop," the FIR read. "When police tried to intervene, the mob chanted slogans against them and started throwing bricks and stones. A brick landed on a policeman’s head, and he got seriously injured. Hayat was egging the protesters on," the FIR further added.
But according to an eyewitness a fight broke out between those trying to enforce the bandh and two men close to the BJP who were trying to defy it which escalated and triggered the unrest.
However, when police started combing the areas to locate miscreants, they only targetted Muslim localities. The police were even caught on camera picking up a minor, and vandalising public property.
Among those picked up by the police were four of Mohammad Enamul Rab’s relatives, who were taken from their homes, which included his younger brother Saddam, his uncle Mukhtar, brother-in-law Rizwan, and another brother Imran.
"The police raided our home, and accused them of hiding here," said Rab, 27, who runs an internet cafÃ© in Islam Toli. "Ab ghar ka aadmi ghar pe nahi rahega toh kaha rahega? My brother-in-law had come to visit with my sister. There was no lady constable, yet the men in uniform dragged my mother and sister up to the road."
Rab said it was a targeted attack. "The police said they are following orders, and asked us to shut up, while they continued to vandalise our home," he said.
One of Rab’s brothers, Saddam, is 12, as is recorded in his school certificate, which Firstpost examined. In the FIR, his age is noted to be 19, and he is accused of launching a "life threatening attack on the police".
Rab is worried that Saddam has spent a month in prison with hardened criminals. "When police is patrolling the areas, parents tell their kids to get inside the homes," he said. "Now we don’t even feel safe in our own homes. They are supposed to protect us. And people are fearful of them. I hope my brother comes out unscathed but the administration should understand that a 12-year old should not be kept with criminals."
Khan said the probation officer, in the meantime, is preparing the Social Investigation Report of the kids. "It includes their details, the families they come from, and whether they have had a criminal past," he said. "That would be considered when we argue for their bail. I hope the report is ready in time for the hearing, and they understand the gravity of minors being in adult prisons."