Muslim boy, 8, accused of rioting in India gets bail after a week

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The authorities came under severe criticism for arresting the boy after a clash during a Hindu religious event in the state of Bihar.

Authorities have been criticized for arresting an eight-year-old Muslim boy accused of rioting after a clash during a Hindu religious event in India’s eastern state of Bihar.

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A local court on Wednesday granted bail, nearly a week after the boy, a resident of Barhariya village in Bihar’s Siwan district, was arrested.

His family told Al Jazeera that he had accompanied his 70-year-old grandfather for afternoon prayers on September 8, when violence broke out during a procession to mark the annual Hindu festival of Mahavir Akhara.


“We do not know what happened near the mosque. Later we heard that some clashes took place during a Hindu rally and Muslims were randomly arrested at the mosque,” ​​Shama Parveen, the boy’s cousin, told Al Jazeera. The boy’s grandfather got bail on Tuesday.

Residents of Barharia say the clashes began on September 8 when dozens of saffron-clad people carrying sticks and iron rods gathered outside a local mosque and raised Islamophobic slogans.

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Instead of catching the rioters, the police are targeting Muslim children. The police personnel should be given severe punishment and the family members of the child should get compensation,” tweeted Muslim MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

The Hindus of the area allege that the clashes started after Muslims pelted stones at his rally.

“Muslims were the first to stop the rally saying they were offering prayers. We stopped and later they threw stones over the mosque,” ​​Rajan Kumar Singh, a member of the right-wing Hindu group, Bajrang Dal, told Al Jazeera.

Praveen Prabhakar, a police officer from Barharia, said Al Jazeera police arrested people from both communities in the clashes.

“Stones were pelted at the procession (Hindu rally) and if people have any problem, they should approach the administration. We suspect that the incident happened in a planned manner. In the (boy’s) case, his video of stone-pelting had come to us,” he said.

Police say more than two dozen people, including 10 Hindus, were booked for rioting, attempt to murder and disrupting a religious gathering. He said that around 20 people have been arrested so far.

Police also recorded the boy’s age as 13, though his family rejected the claim. His birth certificate, accessed by Al Jazeera, also shows that he was eight years old.

The Indian Penal Code states that the act of a child – defined as between seven and 12 – cannot be considered an offense unless the child “understands to judge the nature and consequences of his conduct”. does not attain sufficient maturity”, said Indian news website

Shama told Al Jazeera that the family is in shock and helpless since the boy’s arrest. “We were shocked. How can an eight-year-old boy be charged with a crime he didn’t commit?” He asked.

She said they found the boy’s hands “tied like a criminal” when they visited him in police custody. “He cried and wanted to go home, but we were helpless.” She also alleged that the boy was imprisoned with adults in violation of the law and was shifted to a juvenile home two days later.

The population of Muslims in India is about 14 percent of the population of 1.35 billion. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014, the community has seen an increase in hate speech and violence by right-wing Hindu groups, who seek to transform a constitutionally secular India into an ethnic Hindu state. Huh.

Dozens of Muslim activists, journalists and even students have been arrested and jailed under stringent laws, many without trial.

Khaja Ejazuddin, a lawyer based in southern Telangana state, told Al Jazeera that the boy’s arrest was a case of violation of rights and “prejudice towards minority Muslims”.

“It was not even an arrest but an illegal detention. The Juvenile Justice Act was not followed in the case of this eight-year-old child. Law enforcement officers are not working according to the law, they are working for political officials,” he said.

Sartaj Alam contributed to this report for the Indian state of Jharkhand.

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