In Kashmir, boys aged 14 and 16 held under dreaded Public Safety Act and sent to Uttar Pradesh jails

Using the law to detain minors is illegal.

Around midnight on August 8, 14-year-old Mohammed Aftab* got home after finishing work his bakery. Aftab lives in a village in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. He had been working late to finish a special order for the crisp, crumbly rounds of bread known as Kashmiri kulchas. They were to be delivered the next morning.

But Aftab could not supervise the delivery. Around 2 am that night, police and army personnel, according to his family, knocked on their door.

“They asked the men to come out and directed all the women to sit together in a separate room,” said his 17-year-old sister. “Aftab was still wearing his work clothes. He was too tired to change before sleeping. The police and army took him with them. We didn’t resist.”

They feared the security personnel would vandalise their house if they tried to resist, Aftab’s sister said.

In the morning, when the family went to Shopian police station to seek his release, they said, they found him in the police lock-up. “One of his front teeth was broken and there were swellings and bruises on his left shoulder. He was beaten in custody,” alleged Aftab’s sister.

The police did not release Aftab, his family said, but they were allowed to meet him and take him fresh clothes. “The last time we met him at Shopian police station was on August 11,” said another sister of Aftab. “After his arrest on August 9, we met him every day at the police station. On August 12, we were told that he has been booked under the Public Safety Act and shifted to Srinagar central jail.”


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