Juveniles won’t be lodged in police lock-ups: J-K DGP
Juvenile offenders, including stone-pelters, will no longer be lodged in police lock-ups in Jammu and Kashmir, Director General of Police (DGP) S P Vaid said on Thursdayindia Updated: Sep 07, 2017 20:28 IST
Juvenile offenders, including stone-pelters, will no longer be lodged in police lock-ups in Jammu and Kashmir, Director General of Police (DGP) S P Vaid said on Thursday.
Special juvenile units have been constituted in all police stations across the state, he said. Vaid also said that juveniles who were sent to lock-ups or jails may turn into hardened criminals or get radicalised.
If the offender is a juvenile, he will not be lodged in a police lock-up, Vaid told reporters on the sidelines of a two-day training workshop of special juvenile police units at the police headquarters here.
The training workshop is the first of its kind by the state police which has faced criticism in the past over the handling of juvenile offenders, especially those accused of stone-pelting.
The Juvenile Justice Act was enacted in 2013 and in 2014, its rules were framed, Vaid said adding that unlike the rest of the country, the implementation of this Act was very slow in J&K.
“I am very glad that the Supreme Court and the High Court of J&K are taking initiative and there are many stakeholders in this. Like, the police is the first responder, social welfare department is there, judicial officers are the people who have to monitor this. On our part, what was required to be done, we have taken steps. Like we have constituted special juvenile police units in all the 199 police stations,” he said.
The district superintendent of police is incharge, and one inspector in each district heads the unit, he said.
In each police station, we have appointed a child welfare officer and I am sure these officers will contribute towards proper handling of such cases, the DGP added.
He, however, said that if the Act has to be implemented in the right spirit, there should be a devoted team of officers.
“If this Act is to be implemented in the right spirit, we should have a totally devoted officer meant for this job, who is appointed on the basis of right aptitude and then we provide good training to him (for) which we are making efforts at in our academy,” he said.
Vaid said the effort of the police department is that children in conflict with the law are treated with compassion.
“The spirit of the Act is that the police officer who deals with them is not in uniform. The child is given due care and attention and he is not kept in lock up with criminals. He (juvenile) is given an atmosphere like home,” the DGP said.
He said that if children in conflict with the law are locked in jails, they may turn into hardened criminals or militants.
“In J-K we are facing a huge problem of young offenders who are in conflict with law, like many stone-pelters. I have heard many stories wherein stone-pelters have been lodged in jails and lock-ups later on became hardened criminals, even militants,” he said.
So we are taking steps to prevent these things, sensitize police officers, give them proper training and ensure that we deal with our children who are in conflict with law with due care and love, he said.
“Already, a lot of radicalisation is taking place whether in central jail or in other places. Our experience shows that children who enter central jail are coming out hardened or much radicalised,” he said.
He said that if the juvenile offender is studying, the school certificate would determine his age, but in case he is not, then medical examination would be conducted.
He admitted that implementing the Act was a challenge.
“J&K is definitely a big challenge and unfortunately, let me admit this (because) I belong to this state, the implementation of every scheme is very slow...In the case of Juvenile Justice Act, there are many stakeholders who have not done anything,” he said.
He said there is need to have special homes for children.
“When there is no home what will a policeman do? Where does he keep him? You need counsellors for them. You need somebody who can counsel these children that what you are doing is not right,” he said.
The DGP said the figures of juvenile offenders in the state were not immediately available with him but added that “it is quite a bit...in hundreds”.
Vaid said that under the new act and rules, in case the punishment for an offence is less than seven years, the child has to be bailed out immediately.
“This is a very far reaching judicial enactment, it is very good. (For offences which have punishment of) more than seven years, he has to be lodged. But where do you lodge him if a police officer does not have a special home? Where does he keep him? (For now) we have designated a portion in the police lines where these boys will be kept till you get a juvenile or special home for these children,” he said.
There is a need to have a juvenile board in the state which has not been constituted yet, he added.
“The Social Welfare Department has to play its role and they are also being sensitised about it. I think they will also play the role. We all have to join hands. A society is known by how much it cares for its children and they are our future generation. If we do not care about them, we do not provide them right environment, we are going to be ruined, (like) what is happening in Kashmir,” he said.
Speaking at the workshop, chairperson of J-K Juvenile Justice Committee, High Court, Justice Ali Mohammad Magray, said many things are required to be done in this area.
“Much has been done and much is required to be done... Whatever has been done, is not enough. We need to do a lot more,” he said.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, we are faced with so many problems. The other states are not faced with those problems. We have discussed these problems in round-table conferences also and there were suggestions as well. There is a need of counselling (of the juvenile offenders),” he said.