PUCL, August 2003

Updated 5th August, 2003

Ensuring Munir's quick departure from India and restoration to his family in Pakistan

Earlier report

PUCL Rajasthan team from Jaipur and Bikaner (The team members included Narayan Bareth from the BBC, Ashok Mathur, from Lok Mat, Ashish Maharishi from PUCL and Kavita Srivastava. We were supported by Anshul and Jaya who agreed to film our conversation with Munir) visited the State Observation Juvenile Home in Bikaner on the 4th of August 2003 and met the Pakistani child Munir. Munir had had a long day that day as the child welfare committee of the juvenile home had to approve his admission. He had spent about two hours facing the committee after which we were given some time by the authorities to speak to him.

Since the child speaks a typical countryside Punjabi we had to make use of translators to understand him. He gave us a message to give his mother Halima. ".... Mother, please send me your photo so that I can see your face while I am here" He also added " Mother, please call me back to our village, fast". Towards the end of our conversation when we asked him again as to !
whether there was anything else that he wanted his parents to know, he said, " Mother and Father you must be anxiously looking for me, please know that I am here in India and am alright "

The first success in this matter came when the GOR realised that the boy should be moved into a juvenile home. He was taken into the juvenile home on the 2nd of August, 2003. On the 4th of August the GOR wrote a letter to the GOI recommending that he be repatriated at the earliest to Pakistan and reunited with his family.

The Updated facts of the case are as follows
Munir s/o Bilal Mohammed from Vatu (not Bhatu) in Bhawalpur district in Pakistan was picked up on the 26th of June, 2003 by the BSF from the Sri Ganganagar district border in Rajasthan, India and handed over to the Rajasthan police. Several agencies, including the Central Intelligence, the State intelligence, the BSF and the local police interrogated him and established that he had innocently strayed into the country when he had gone to borrow five hundred rupees from his maternal uncle Aman in Mochipur on the Pakistan side.

After being kept in the police station at Kesari Singhpur in Sri Ganganagar district for more than a month and two days, till the 29th of July, he was moved to a close by sub-jail. For the first time he was produced in front of a executive magistrate on the 29th of July where he was charged u/s 109 CrPC. The SDM Bhagwati Prasad Prajapat oblivious of the law confirmed these charges and sent him into judicial custody in the nearby sub-jail at Karanpur tehsil. Realizing his mistake the SDM at the behest of the jailer who gave him an application that the child was too young to be in a jail, was sent to the State Observation Home for Juveniles in Bikaner on the 1st of August, 2003.

On Saturday, the 2nd of July morning he was brought to the Juvenile Observation home in Bikaner the only one for that division, with the letter from the SDM for the Superintendent of the home that he be kept there. The Superintendent recommended the matter to the JJ Board.

A Special hearing of the Juvenile Justice Board was called on Saturday afternoon by the CJM Mr. Ashok Sharma, who is also the chairperson of the Board, that evening itself in order to take a decision on the matter. The other members were Mr. NK Sharma, Advocate, Sushila Ojha, lecturer & social worker.

For the board this was a different matter, as the SDM should have forwarded both Munir and his case to the board. But no such thing was done. Instead the SDM confirmed Chapter VIII proceedings of the Cr PC, which are disallowed by the law against juveniles. (Sec.17 JJ Act, 2000). Sec. 109, security for good behavior of suspected persons is a part of chapter VIII of the CrPC. (When an executive magistrate of the first class receives information that there is within his local jurisdiction a person taking precautions too conceal his presence and there is reason to believe that he is doing so with a view to committing a cognizable offence, the magistrate may in the manner herein a!fter provided require such person to show cause why he should not be ordered to execute a bond with or without sureties for his good behavior for such a period not exceeding one year as a magistrate deems fit.)

The board took him in the home as a temporary inmate finding him a fit case of care and protection. They however, stated that u/s 31 (i) of the JJ Act, 2000 the Child Welfare Committee is empowered to take a final decision regarding the provision of care and protection with respect to the basic needs and human rights of the child. Thus they recommended to the committee that on humanitarian grounds he should be given a place in the Bikaner home.

On the 4th of August a special meeting of the Child Welfare Committee was called. It consisted of five members

* Dr. Kiran Singh, chairperson, lecturer Women's College
* Mahendra Kumar Jain, advocate, Rajasthan High Court.
* Dr. BL Jatav, Lecturer, Dungar College
* SR Bharadwaj, Social Worker
* Prem Lata Sharma, former assistant social welfare officer.

Except for the last one all other members were present.

The committee took a final decision of keeping him in the home till the GOR or GOI would order the repatriation of the child to Pakistan or till the child would turn 18 years. They ordered for his medical age examination ( to confirm his age ) as this had not been done by the police and also for a thorough medical check up. They also stated that they were shocked at the ignorance of the SDM and the police who did not produce the child in front of the Board or the Committee for over a month and had especially for the SDM they stated that he had surpassed his jurisdiction and directly ordered the superintendent of the Home to keep the child.

They felt that an urgent need to disseminate the JJ Act was needed as the ignorance at the level of the police and the administration was obvious. The committee took a decision to meet on the next date and write to both the GOR and GOI for early repatriation of the child.

Our Interaction with Munir
In our interaction with Munir it was obvious that the child was tired of repeating his story again and again. Whoever met him had wanted to hear from his story from his mouth.

He was happy to learn that we were trying to ensure his speedy repatriation. He gave us two messages for his mother. He first said, " Halima, my mother, please send me your photo so that I can see your face while I am here" He also added " Mother, please call me back to our village, fast". Later when he was asked again as to there was any other message that he wanted sent to his parents, he said, " Mother and Father you must be anxiously looking for me, Please know that I am here ( in India ) and alright " .

He told us that he wanted to go back urgently as his brothers and sisters would be crying for him. He had two brothers and four sisters of whom two were married and the third Amina was to be married off soon. He also said that his brother Shabir must be taking the cattle for grazing alone. So he had to return to help in the household chores. He also told us that his father is a migrant who lives in Lahore and sells kulfis but he did come home once a month or once in two months.

On that ill-fated day he was on his way to his maternal uncle (mama's) Aman's house to borrow five hundred rupees. He was with two other boys, 20 year old Sheru and 7-year-old Mamum. When they strayed onto the Indian side the other two ran away and he got caught.

He also talked of the bad drought that had hit their village and there had hardly been any rainfall before he had trespassed into Indian territory. He was pleased that he had been given new clothes in Ganganagar. He also told us that he had not beaten by the Indian police and had received a lot love.

According to members of the Juvenile Justice Board Munir is fond of singing and had happily sung two songs for them. Tellingly, one of them was ".........pardesi, pardesi jana nahin........."

According to press reports the Home Commissioner has sent a letter to the GOI on the 4th of August, 2003 demanding urgent repatriation of Munir.

The Petition in the Rajasthan High Court in Jaipur filed by the PUCL has been the reason for Government's action. The press and citizens of the city of Ganganagar and now Bikaner have taken up his matter like a campaign. (for details of the PUCL petition please see earlier note from the PUCL website at http://www.pucl.org )

We once again appeal to you to write to the Prime Minister of India, Home Minster and the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, GOI for urgent repatriation of the child to Pakistan

Kavita Srivastava (General Secretary)
Jaipur contact persons:

Kavita Srivastava & Prem Krishna Sharma,

People's Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan,
49, Vivek Nagar, Station Road, Jaipur-302006

e,mails & phone no:

Kavita Srivastava: 0141/2706483

Prem Krishna Sharma: 0141/2206139

Narayan Bareth: 0141/2720966, 9414042277

Bikaner Contact Persons

Arvind Ojha
phone nos: 0151/2545097, 2523093

Rajeev Harsh and Anurag Harsh
mobile nos: 98292-66018, 9829266022

Mahendra Kumar Jain, Advocate
phone nos 0151/2541437

Ashok Mathur, Lok Mat
phone nos. 0151 / 2200146, 9414137340


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