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Probe into rioting charges slapped on toddler


Patna : Embarrassed over their latest faux pas in charging a two-year-old with rioting and pelting the police with stones, the Bihar police are probing how an infant had been charged with such crimes.

It is not the first time such incidents are taking place in Bihar. Children as young as two and three have been named as criminals in police records, inviting censure from courts and rights bodies.

The latest incident is about toddler Raj Kumar Jha, alias Raju, who has been charged with rioting and throwing stones on police in a village in Katihar district, about 200 km from here.

Katihar superintendent of police Anil Kishore Yadav told IANS over telephone that they were investigating how the infant had been charged.

"The matter is being investigated after it was brought to my notice," Yadav said.

Raj Kumar Jha, who still has to be fed by his mother, faces arrest and has been asked to surrender. An arrest warrant has been issued against him.

According to the police complaint in this case, seven people, including the boy, were named accused in a clash between two communities during a religious procession this January.

"It was shocking when my small child was charged with rioting and pelting the police with stones, and an arrest warrant issued against him," the boy's father Raj Narayan Jha, who runs a telephone booth, said Friday.

The boy's father said the local police had filed a "false case" against him and other family members.

Police officials said it could be a clerical error.

In the recent past, nearly half a dozen minors have been slapped with criminal charges for crimes ranging from molestation, attack on police, theft and looting. Under Indian laws, the police cannot file a criminal case against a child below seven years of age.

Last month, seven-year-old Santosh Yadav of Tara village in Begusarai district was wanted in a case of torture for dowry. An arrest warrant is pending against him for the last 11 months for allegedly torturing his elder brother's wife.

According to Santosh Yadav's father, Rambabu Yadav, who was also named an accused along with his wife, at the time of filing the police complaint, Santosh was only six and a student of Class 3.

All of them were later granted bail by the court.

In October last year, police booked a three-month-old baby boy for looting a bus. The infant, Praveen Kumar of Nehalpur village in Muzaffarpur district, was named one of the accused in the bus looting case registered at the Meenapur police station.

"The boy was hardly one-and-a-half-months old then," a relative of the boy said.

In another case, six-year-old Bimal Kumari and eight-year-old Kamal Kumari were charged by the Bhojpur district police with assault, looting and abuse after two years of investigations. They were granted bail by a court which rapped the police.

In another case, five-year-old Raj Kumar was charged for not only assaulting a woman but also attempting to molest her. The court quashed the charges against him.

Police in Sasaram in Rohtas district booked a five-year-old boy as a pickpocket. When it was found that the boy was not a pickpocket, the court ordered the police official responsible for his custody to pay him compensation and also apologise to him.