'I kept thinking I'd be killed': On Children's Day, a 16-year-old from Kashmir recalls solitary confinement in aftermath of Article 370 abrogation

  • G was among the 144 minors detained by authorities after the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

  • 'I kept thinking that I would never be released, and that I would be killed,' he recalls of his time in detention.

  • He was finally released on 29 October, less than two weeks before his 12th board examination began.

When G (name withheld to protect identity), a 16-year-old was put under solitary confinement in a jail in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, almost 700 kilometres from his home in Kashmir, he had no company except two to three policemen at the entrance of the cell. G was among the 144 minors detained by authorities after the abrogation of Article 370.

Every day, he would look at them and hope that he would have someone to talk to. “But they were not talking to me, as according to them, I was a criminal,” he said.

Earlier, G was shifted from a police station to a jail in Kashmir, where he spent an entire night without sleep. At around 4 a.m, he was taken to a military base in a bus along with 20 other people. From there, they took a flight to travel to Uttar Pradesh.

In the plane, a policeman showed G an arrest warrant. “Until then, I had no idea that I was slapped with provisions of the Public Safety Act,” he said. This was also, incidentally, the day that he boarded an aeroplane for the first time.

 I kept thinking Id be killed: On Childrens Day, a 16-year-old from Kashmir recalls solitary confinement in aftermath of Article 370 abrogation

Representational image. Reuters

Meanwhile, G's father had no idea that he was shifted outside Kashmir. The police assured his family that the boy would be released soon.

At around 12 pm, he reached Bareilly jail in Uttar Pradesh, where the police were already waiting for the detainees who were coming from Kashmir.

G hadn't eaten anything for 24 hours, and it was only after he was placed in confinement in Bareilly that he was given tea. He recalls, "All through the journey, I kept thinking that I would never be released, and that I would be killed."

The 16-year-old vividly remembers every detail of the room where he had been detained — from the colour of the mat to the number of lights.

He spent two months in the cell, and during this period, he would wash his jeans every other day. “I had only one dress with me for two months, which I would wash and wear,” he said.

G says that for the initial two days, he had no idea when it was day or night. "But later, I realised that there was one opening on the roof through which I could see the sun," he recalled.

For about a week, the boy would cry often, until he became used to the place. Then, he would spend his time praying, and would ask the Almighty to free him from prison.

Every morning, a policeman would come to see him, and wake him up. "Perhaps he was checking to see if I was dead or alive," he quipped. Nevertheless, he kept hoping that his family would come with a release order.

On 28 October, G was finally told that he would be released. On his release the next day, he was elated to see personnel of the Jammu and Kashmir Police waiting for him at the main gate.

Although G is 16 years old as per his certificates, authorities that detained him wrote that he was 22 years old. According to G's family, his detention order stated that he had completed his 12th board examination. However, the family said that he has not even appeared for the examination yet.

Even after G was released from jail, his family did not know about it, as the Valley was still in the midst of a communication lockdown. However, his family had filed a habeas corpus petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

Recalling the period that G was under detention, his mother said she spent the two months crying. "I thought my son would have to spend years in jail," she said.

G is now appearing for his 12th board examinations in Kashmir, which started in early November. His family had submitted his form when he was in jail. He was released from jail less than two weeks before his examination began.

'I don't feel like studying'

G has now been home for nearly a week, and his examination began on 9 November. He said that he doesn't feel like studying after his release from jail.

When he sits in his study room and opens his book, he feels that he is confined to a single place. He said, "When I am outside, I feel I am free. That's why I don't study now. I fear being at a fixed place."

G's family does not reprimand him for not studying now. They know that he cannot study after having spent two months in jail.

His mother said, "He is home, and that is enough for me. How can he study when he is affected by his ordeal so much?"

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Updated Date: Nov 14, 2019 22:02:22 IST


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