PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 20/07/99
EXTRA 14/99 Fear for Safety/fear of “disappearance” 4 February 1999
INDIAZahoor Ahmed Khanday, aged 15
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of 15-year-old Zahoor Ahmed
Khanday, after he was detained by state police. His whereabouts are unknown.
He is apparently being held hostage, and is at risk of torture or death in
Zahoor Ahmed Khanday was taken from his parents’ house in the village of Maloora
near Srinagar by members of the Special Operations Group (SOG), a branch of
the state police, on 2 February 1999.
The SOG denied this when his parents made enquiries on 3 February. His parents
visited the police station at Parimpor on 4 February and asked police to file
a First Information Report (FIR) to record their son’s “disappearance”. The
police refused to do this. That day Zahoor Ahmed Khanday’s uncle visited the
SOG headquarters at Hafthchinar, Cargo Complex. SOG officials apparently
admitted that they were holding the boy, but would not let his uncle see him,
saying that he would be detained until his brother, Abdul Khanday, presented
himself for questioning.
Zahoor Ahmed Khanday has apparently not been charged with any offence; nor
was he brought before a magistrate within 24 hours, as required by law.
India has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states:
“No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily.
The arrest, detention of imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with
the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest
appropriate period of time”.
Since 1990, some 700 to 800 people have “disappeared” after being arrested
by police, military or paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir. Though the
number of “disappearances” has fallen recently, hundreds of cases remain
unsolved. The victims, ranging from juveniles to the very old, have included
businessmen, lawyers, labourers and many teachers.
Attempts by victims’ relatives to bring complaints against the security forces
have been persistently obstructed. Relatives have first to register a complaint
with the local police, who are obliged by law to take their statement down
in writing in a First Information Report (FIR). However, lawyers allege that
the local police have been secretly instructed to refuse to register complaints
of human rights violations without permission from higher authority, which
clearly contravenes Indian law.
The Special Operations Group (SOG), previously called the Special Task Force,
was set up in 1994 as the counter-insurgency arm of the police force. Amnesty
International has previously received reports that the SOG has held innocent
family members in detention to force suspects to come forward.
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