India police charge toddler with 'theft and trespassing'

Ravi with his father Image copyright Zeeshan Qadeer
Image caption Two-year-old Ravi was brought to the court by his father

Police in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh have been left red-faced after charging a toddler with theft.

Two-year-old Ravi had been named in a police complaint along with three men, one of whom was his relative.

Police attempted to arrest the toddler on Tuesday - causing his alarmed father to take Ravi to the district court, where he explained the situation to senior police officers, reports said.

Ravi's name was taken off the complaint after the senior officers intervened.

A theft had been reported from Bajehra village in Sitapur district on 20 September, police said.

On the basis of a complaint by the victim and other villagers, police registered a case against four men, including the boy, the Press Trust of India reported.

All four were accused of "theft", "trespassing at night" and "dishonestly receiving stolen property". It is not clear why Ravi's name was included in the initial complaint.

The three accused adults have already been arrested and lodged in jail.

Under Indian law, police cannot file a criminal case against a child below seven years of age, but there have been several instances in the past when police have done so.

Last year, two policemen were suspended for charging a one-year-old child with "coercion" ahead of a by-election, also in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

In 2011, a five-year-old boy in Bihar state was charged with disrupting the peace during village council elections. Police later said it was a case of mistaken identity and they meant to charge his elder brother with disorderly conduct.

In 2006, the Bihar police charged a six-year-old girl with attacking them and helping her father escape from police custody.

And in neighbouring Pakistan, a nine-month-old boy was accused of planning a murder, threatening police and interfering in state affairs.

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