New Delhi: Joginder and his brother were picked up from their small shanty in the middle of the night and taken to a police lock up. Joginder was released after spending three nights in jail but his brother was not so lucky.
"I was let off in a case of hooliganism but my brother was caught for carrying a gun," says Joginder:
A copy of an FIR (in CNN-IBN’s possession) shows that his brother Mahinder was charged with carrying a country made revolver. Mahinder is still a minor.
Joginder and his brother’s is not an isolated tale. Street children are routinely picked up by the Delhi Police and locked up because they are soft targets.
Says Bharti Ali who works with the Centre for Child Rights, "Mahinder is only 17 years old and is not meant to be locked up in Tihar. The police put him in under the Arms Act which is not a simple offence. It’s a non-bailable offence."
Meanwhile, Joginder and Mahinder’s mother, Shakuntala Devi – who works as domestic help – struggles to make sense of legal tangles.
"They took him to Tihar claiming that he had a country-made revolver. What would he do with it? He won’t even know how to use one," says she.
CNN-IBN’s team kept going to the police station for two days but all they got was this stock reply – "Please ask the people who are involved in this case."
Say boys who live life on the rough streets of the Capital that police routinely beat them with lathis and don’t even spare the young ones – they either lock them up on some false charge or take away whatever money these children have.
"They say if you tell your parents what we did, we will lock you up," says a child.
Life on the streets is not easy. Any young boy can be arbitrarily picked up and put behind bars, just like Mahinder was – and no one has any answers as to why this is being done.