The unforgiving public does not differentiate between children and adults when it comes to punishing the guilty. Recent incidents of cruelty towards children by the public, and the police too, show just how intolerant society has become.
There have been incidents when children have had to pay for petty crime like stealing a few packets of detergent with being tonsured and paraded in public. In Shahpur, some influential villagers beat up some Dalit children, including an infant, and their mothers and poured steaming dal on them for daring to play in the premises of a temple.
Two minor girls, Chandani and Kamli, who were collecting firewood in Samastipur village last month drowned in floodwaters when a policeman assaulted them and chased them away. The guilty officer was later put under suspension.
In Katihar, a three-year-old boy was recently booked for rioting in connection with a clash during a Tazia procession about five months ago. A 12-year-old was arrested by the police and lodged in Sasaram jail in connection with a criminal case. he was then shifted to Patna’s Beur jail, home to hardened criminals.
Children have also been victims of caste armies. In 2003, suspected Ranvir Sena men gunned down a pregnant woman and her two children in Arwal district. The armed activists were actually searching for an underground Maoist operative but killed his wife and children instead when they couldn’t find him.