Mumbai: In a shocking case of inhuman treatment meted out to innocent children, the Vashi police detained six children for over two hours on Friday evening. Their mistake was that they were playing in their building compound.
The cops also detained the childrens' parents, who had come to enquire about the whereabouts of their children, and reportedly abused them. The police took this step after 40 year-old Shruti Bhatt, a resident of Sun Villa apartment, Sector 28, Vashi complained about the kids making noise in the premises while playing.
The incident took place at 6 pm on Friday when Saurabh Bhosle (13), Vikram Agri (13), Sidhant Puthalat (13), Siddharth Dube (12), Anish Khanapurkar (13), residents of Sun Twinkle Apartments, were playing cricket along with 12 year-old Niket Joshi, resident of the adjoining Sun Villa apartments at the latter's building. Bhat started shouting at them for playing there and making a commotion. Soon the children moved to the adjoining road. But 15 minutes later, two beat marshals from Vashi police station came and started abusing them.
Despite telling the cops that they had moved on the road to avoid inconvenience to Bhat, the beat marshals started verbally abusing the kids. Apparently they also slapped Niket Joshi twice. They didn't stop there and crammed the children in Bhat's car and took them to Vashi police station forcibly.
Bhosle, a student of Father Agnel school, said "Bhat came out of her flat, took our photographs and started shouting at us to get out of the building. So we started playing cricket on the road. After some time, two policemen came and started abusing us for playing in the building premises earlier. They also slapped Niket twice, forcibly packed us in Bhat's car and took us to Vashi police station. We were made to sit there for over two hours and weren't allowed to even contact our parents."
Concerned parents, who rushed to Vashi police station after learning that cops had detained their children, also had to face a harrowing time. Anil Puthalat, Sidhant's father said, "The cops refused to tell us the reason for detaining our kids and started abusing us. When we questioned them, they made us sit in a room and confiscated our mobile phones. Now our children are scared to step out of their homes." Puthalat also alleged that Bhat had political links.
The children were released after 8. 30 pm. As soon as they were let off after 9.30 pm, the parents rushed to the Navi Mumbai police commissioners office in Belapur to lodge a complaint (a copy of which is with SMD).
When contacted, senior police inspector of Vashi police station, Raosaheb Sardesai, said that the cops were justified in taking harsh action against the children. "We had received a complaint from Bhat, a senior citizen, that the children would often make noise in her building. So we detained them to teach them a lesson."
When asked why the parents weren't informed about their children's whereabouts, Sardesai said, "I do not want to say anything. You are free to publish anything you want." Despite repeated attempts, Bhat was unavailable for comment.
When contacted, Ahmad Javed, police commissioner of Navi Mumbai said, "I am aware of this case and have learnt that the parents have recalled their complaint. I will ensure that such incidents do not happen in future."
According to sources, the parents were pressurised to recall their complaints due to Bhat's political connections.
Meanwhile, legal practitioners have condemned the action taken by the cops. Arfan Sait, a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court, said, "The police can detain someone only in two circumstances, when one commits a hard crime or in case of preventive measure, for instance, to maintain law and order during elections. But they can't detain children, especially when they haven't committed any crime. If the children were proving to be a nuisance, they should have contacted the parents and counselled the children."