New Delhi: The 14-year-old son of a right to information activist has allegedly been arrested as an adult under the Arms Act and kept in jail for five months in Buxar, Indian Express reported on Saturday.
The newspaper stated that the activist had filed several applications under the RTI act to uncover alleged irregularities under Bihar government schemes, paddy procurement and MGNREGA. “My son was framed because I had sought paddy procurement details… How can police declare my minor son an adult? Can anyone believe the police story of a boy returning from an examination centre with a pistol,” he told the Indian Express.
He mentioned that after his RTI applications revealed several irregularities in road construction and the MGNREGA, local panchayat functionaries “framed” him in an SC/ST Act case, but he got a “clean chit”. “They then hatched a conspiracy to trap my innocent son,” he said.
The activist said that his son had appeared for a paper for the Class X examination on February 29. After giving his exams, he took a ride along with two men from his village on a motorcycle. This vehicle was stopped by police in Buxar’s Rajpur area, who claimed that a pistol was recovered from the son and live cartridge from the other two.
While the men were released on bail later, the activist’s son is still behind bars. His son had scored 83% in the paper that he gave before being arrested – and had one more exam to give.
The RTI activist claimed that he had complained to Bihar’s Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey before the lockdown began. The Express reported that the boy, as per his school records, was born in April 2006.
During the lockdown, it was impossible to avail legal remedies due to the closure of courts. “We were not able to take up the matter because of the constant lockdown and closure of court. The local police did nothing to rectify the mistake of declaring the boy an adult. We have approached the Juvenile Justice Board and will be submitting a letter from the school stating his correct date of birth,” said the activist’s lawyer, Lalan Pandey.
When the Indian Express contacted the complainant in the case, Rajpur police station’s ASI Mahesh Prasad Singh, he said, “I have little role to play in this. I did what I was asked to do.”
Bihar DGP Pandey said that he had taken “serious note” and was getting it “thoroughly investigated. He acknowledged that the father had approached him before lockdown, which he had then referred to Buxar Superintendent of Police. “I am seeking an update.”
Stating he would soon meet the father, Buxar SP Upendra Nath Verma told Express that he has “asked the local police station to look into the matter of how a minor was shown as an adult and the circumstances in which a teenaged boy is facing a case”.