Under pressure, J&K govt frees teenager Faizan

Pawan Bali | Updated: April 6, 2011, 11:59 AM IST

Jammu: Sustained pressure forced the Jammu and Kashmir government to release teenager Faizan Rafiq, arrested two months ago without trial under the Public Safety Act, on humanitarian grounds.

Amnesty International and human rights groups had launched a 'Free Faizan' campaign, with Faizan's family struggling to prove that he's a minor.

There was an initial controversy on whether he was a minor followed by public anger and campaigns met up with Faizan.

There were tears of relief on the eyes of Faizan Rafiq's parents as their young boy walked out of the Kathua jail.

His family has struggled to get him out, trying to prove he's just a minor. While his school certificate puts his age at 14 and half years, police initially claimed he was 27 years old and later, 17.

"They had not even seen me when they listed my age as 27 years. When I saw it, first I laughed...what kind government would do this?" said Faizan Rafiq.

"I have been married for 16 years, how can my son be 18 or 27?" said Faizan's father Rafiq Mohammad.

Faizan's case was first raised by human rights group Amnesty International.

Besides Amnesty International and Human Rights group, social networking sites played an important role in building pressure to release Faizan, that is when Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took note.

The 'Free Faizan' campaign forced the Chief Minister to order a medical test to determine his age. Omar Abdullah subsequently got him freed on humanitarian grounds after the test put Faizan's age at between 17 and 18. But not before he's spent two months in jail.

"The last two months I will never forget in my life...they have been hard," said Faizan.

"I appeal to the Omar Abdullah government not to arrest any innocent like him," said Faizan's father Rafiq Mohammad.

Perhaps, Faizan's case will serve as a reminder to the government to be more careful when using harsh laws against its own people, especially youngsters.

First Published: April 6, 2011, 11:59 AM IST

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