Srinagar: 12-yr-old booked for waging war against the state, released on bail
A Class 6 student, booked by the police for rioting and waging war against the state on recent Eid in Srinagar, was granted bail on Tuesday, just a day after the local court sent him for 15 days of police remand.
"Principal session judge granted bail today. We hope the teenager will be released today only. But till 6pm, he was not released," the teenager's lawyer Babar Qadri told Hindustan Times.
Qadri said the teenager was slapped with serious charges by the police, including waging war against the state.
Teenager Faizan Bashir Sofi, a resident of Srinagar's Eidgah area, was arrested by the police two days ago and booked for rioting, attempt to murder and waging war against the state on August 20.
According to the police, Sofi was part of the mob that set afire a police vehicle in the old city on recent Eid when Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was barred from prayers.
"The video and photographs available with police showed Faizan participated in the beating of policemen and burning of the vehicle," said Safa Kadal station house officer Parvez Ahmad.
The news of the teenager's arrest sparked a major online campaign by pressure group change.org.
An online petition filed by a Srinagar resident, Shehla Rashid Shora, saw more than 250 signatures in just 24 hours. The petition was routed to chief minister Omar Abdullah on-line for his action.
"Within just hours of the petition going live on Change.org, hundreds of people signed it to secure Faizan's freedom. This case is a telling comment on the state of juvenile justice in J&K. Nothing can justify a 12 year old boy being locked up behind bars. He belongs in a classroom, not a jail," said Raheel Khursheed, director communications, India change.org.
The petition, which demanded immediate release of the teenager, was signed by senior Pakistan and Indian civil society like Beena Sarwar, Raza Rumi and Annie Zaddi too.
"Jammu and Kashmir does not have provisions for juvenile justice that are applicable elsewhere in the country. So, he should be released," said petitioner Shora.
Shora claims that Faizan was charged with very serious criminal offences on the basis of very thin evidence."A very large number of protesters were present at Eidgah. It's very unfortunate that a minor has been singled out and booked under such serious charges," said Shora
"Because children are not a threat to public safety. Draconian laws are," she added.