'Children in conflict regions raped'

Hundreds of children in conflict-ridden regions in India are arbitrarily arrested, tortured, raped by the security forces and rebels, a rights group said.

india Updated: Nov 02, 2003 02:39 IST

Hundreds of children in conflict-ridden regions in India are arbitrarily arrested, tortured, raped and often die at the hands of both the security forces and armed rebels, a human rights group said Thursday.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights said across the country, particularly in insurgency-torn Kashmir, minors were housed in ordinary jails along with hardened criminals because of weak implementation of juvenile justice laws.

"Hundreds of minors across India are languishing in jails along with adult prisoners, as the magistrates do not order age verification involving scrutiny of birth or school certificates and bone ossification tests if a suspect seems under 21 years," the group said in a report entitled "The Status of Children in India."

The study said in May 2003 armed rebels in Kashmir slit the throats of two children, aged two and four, because their father worked for the police.

Security forces also commit abuses. Also in May this year, three police officers in the restive northeastern state of Tripura badly injured the sexual organs of a minor girl with a cane.

The report added that a large number of children in the eastern state of Jharkhand had been arrested under an anti-terrorism law, including a 14-year-old girl who was arrested last year for waging war against the state.

It said that tens of thousands of children, who are either refugees from other countries or forced to move out of their homes because of militant violence, do not get access to education and other amenities.

Compensation given to families of displaced people also varied greatly, with Hindu refugees in Indian Kashmir getting up to 600 rupees (12 dollars) per month while members of the Reang community in Mizoram got 80 rupees per month.

India has remained silent on the situation of children in regions of armed conflict and done little to implement suggestions from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in order to protect them, the study said.

First Published: Oct 30, 2003 20:33 IST