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Kashmir: Teenager freed after pleas by Amnesty, Facebook

April 05, 2011 23:34 IST

Teenager Faizan Rafiq, whose detention under the Public Safety Act for his alleged involvement in stone-pelting had created a furore in Jammu and Kashmir, was on Tuesday released from a jail in Kathua district on humanitarian grounds on the order of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

"We have issued the orders of his (Faizan's) release. He is now free," said State Home Commissioner B R Sharma.

"Faizan was released at approximately 1 pm. The home secretary had conveyed the order to jail authorities on Monday at 5.30 pm," the boy's father Rafiq Ahmad Hakeem told PTI over the phone from Kathua.

However, the teenager denied having used stone-pelting as a mode of protest during last year's unrest in the Kashmir Valley.

"Finally, I am free after one month and nine days of humiliation and harassment. I was unnecessarily arrested and jailed for the crime which I never committed," Faizan told reporters after he was handed over to his father by authorities of the district jail in Kathua, 90 kms from Jammu.

"I was simply going to school when I was arrested and jailed for stone-pelting," he claimed.

Faizan was arrested earlier this year from Anantnag town and was slapped with the Public Safety Act for his alleged involvement in stone pelting during last year's unrest in the Valley. He was sent to Kathua jail on February 23.

Faizan's detention under PSA had generated a controversy as his family had produced a birth certificate which claimed that he was only 14 years old and could not be detained under the law as the minimum age prescribed in it was 16 years.

However, the chief minister ordered a medical test to ascertain the age of the boy, who was found to be at least 17 years old.

"That's where the problem is because under the law he isn't a minor, which is why it's being considered from a humanitarian point of view," Omar had tweeted on Sunday.

The Opposition People's Democratic Party had pressurised the government to release Faizan by raising the issue in the state assembly several times during the budget session.

There was a campaign for his release on social networking site Facebook, which was signed by over 600 people. Global human rights group Amnesty International had also launched a campaign called 'Free Faizan'.

The chief minister had on Friday ordered the teenager's release on humanitarian grounds following the wide-spread criticism.

"I am happy after being released and I will be going back home," said Faizan, flanked by his father.

"I have never thrown any stones anywhere or on anyone...I have spent over one month and nine days in jail. They were the worst days of my life. I do not want to remember the period of harassment and beating in jail," he said.

"I am very happy that my son is back with the family. I thank hundreds of people, media and leaders. I am very thankful to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for my son's release," Rafiq said.

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