10th grader languishing in jail after being detained during BNP rally in Chattogram

A tenth-grader caught in the clash between police and BNP supporters on 16 January has been languishing in jail, with police accused of falsifying his age.

The 17-year-old boy, Sakib Ali, is a student of Pathantuli City Corporation High School and son of Mohammad Ali, a resident of Korban Ali Bari in Paschim Motherbari Jughichad Masjid Lane area.

Mohammad Ali said his son, youngest among five siblings, went to the city’s Kazir Dewri area to buy a cricket jersey on 16 January when a clash broke out between the BNP supporters and cops.

"Police caught my son when he was running to save him from the chaos," he said, adding that they took him to Kotwali police station later.

The father said his son is now 17 years and 6 months as per Junior School Certificate but police showed his age is 19 years and they didn’t pay heed to their words.

"My son has no involvement with any politics and works for a local pharmacy for Tk 6,000 monthly salary to bear his educational cost," he said.

Demanding release of her son, Sakib’s mother alleged police landed him in jail through a court in a false case.

Samiran Barua, a teacher of the school, acknowledged Sakib as their student saying that he is not involved with any politics and police should release him.

Advocate Zia Habib, central secretary general of Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation and a Human Rights lawyer, said police in most of the incidents send children to jail through court showing increased age despite having 'Children Act' for their offences.

Apart from this, there is a rule to send children accused of criminal offences to safe custody through courts, he said. Expressing regret for Sakib, the lawyer said the children are kept with prisoners in jail.

Zahedul Kabir, officer-in-charge of Kotwali police station, said they picked Sakib up from the spot of the clash on that day. Replying to a question, the OC also put a counter-question saying "Can’t any student be indicted in a case once he/she commits crimes?"

Legal actions will be taken after investigation if he is under 18 years, the OC added.