Respect Childhood

For two days in the lower court premises of Srinagar, there were crowds desperately trying to have a look at three kids who cops had driven to the court. Charged under various offences, they were arrested last month apparently during or after some instances of stone pelting. Two of them were born soon after the start of Kargil war in 1999.

They were studying in sixth and seventh grades, newspapers reported. A day after, two of the kids were bailed out and case of third one posted to the second week of November. The judge reacted to the situation in his courtroom and possibly afterwards the police followed up.

But the larger crisis of the system in place is that it has been encouraged to become robotic. Every screw of the system looks towards the controlling mechanism to seek a suggestion. The officials who were holding these boys for eight days and allegedly beating them in their most impressionable age could have taken the same decision at their own level. Even if they would have been involved in stone pelting, as they are accused of, the decision of letting them go after reprimanding them and getting the local community and their families involved would have been the ideal way of managing the situation.

If no option existed other than their arrest, they should have been driven to the juvenile home immediately. But that happened only after keeping them in police station for eight days, on court direction.

Juvenile justice is a major issue of the contemporary humanity. J&K lagged far behind on this front and certain decisions were taken after the concern became a larger public issue last year. While the situations seem to be making policy-makers change, the system seemingly is unrelenting. The case of the three kids is just a pointer towards that.

The security set up has every right to stake the claim for a peaceful year, first after three consecutive summers. Their might be innumerable factors being put forward – the most weird being the continuation of AFSPA, but the larger reality is that the security set up responded to problems and issues with more caution and more responsibility.

It did pave way for many small developments which could in the long term trigger larger changes in the larger interests of the people. For the first time the government did away with the discrimination that existed on the age of a minor.
The systems in place must complement the effort of the political executive; otherwise it devours the credibility of the overall governance structure.

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