GS-2, Uncategorized

Childhoods lost in a troubled paradise

Context

  • This article speaks about incidents of Illegal detention, violence and torture in the valley region of Jammu and Kashmir and how this has led to mental trauma in the children and stress in Adults.

Stats

  • Between 1990 and 2005, a total of 46 schools were occupied by the armed forces
  • In 2018, the Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) found through Right to Information applications that hundreds of children had been detained under the PSA between 1990 and 2013.

A look at reports

  • A report by economist Jean Dreze has chilling details of illegal detention and torture of boys.
  • A recent report by the Indian Federation of Indian Women and other organisations gave a first-hand account of the haunting spectre of mothers standing at their doorsteps in the desperate hope of their children’s return, not knowing where they are.

These disappearances are in clear breach of the Supreme Court’s directions in the D.K. Basu case

  • The court, in this case, said that the next of kin have to be informed of every such arrest and the reasons thereof.
  • The police officer carrying out the arrest shall prepare a memo of arrest at the time of arrest and such memo shall be attested by at least one witness, who may be either a member of the family of the arrestee or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made.
    • It shall also be counter signed by the arrestee and shall contain the time and date of arrest.

Kashmir’s children have become Pawns in a political game

  • A report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights found that children in Kashmir, many of whose ages were wrongly recorded, were being detained and mistreated for several days in police lock-up, without any charge, mostly under the Public Safety Act (PSA)
  • In many of these cases, the police/magistrates had no procedure to verify the age of the detainees and minors were kept in custody along with adult criminals and released only after judicial intervention. About 80% of these detentions were held illegal by courts.

Such unlawful detentions leaves a lifelong impact on children, perpetuating a cycle of trauma, fear and bitterness.

Such treatment of children is undoubtedly in violation of multiple laws and conventions.

  • To begin with, all of them violate Article 14(4) of the International Convention on Civil & Political rights which states that “all proceedings against juveniles shall take into account their age and the desirability of promoting their rehabilitation.”
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by India, provides that the arrest/detention of a child shall be in conformity with the law and used only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period.
  • The guidelines of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights clearly state that a blanket characterization of adolescent boys as security threats during civil unrest should be avoided and authorities should investigate and take action against personnel involved in arbitrary detentions, mistreatment or torture of children.

Various court rulings against detention of Juvenile’s

  • In 2003, the Madras High Court in Prabhakaran v. State of Tamil Naduheld that the Juvenile Justice Act is a comprehensive law and overrides preventive detention laws enacted for national security.
  • Earlier, in 1982, the Supreme Court had in the Jaya Mala case condemned the preventive detention of a student and observed that young people, even if their acts are misguided, cannot be punished with a sledgehammer.

However, none of these laws and directives seem to be followed in Kashmir.

How it harms Children?

  • Parents are too scared to send their children to school, lest they be picked up by authorities or get caught in a crossfire. This leads to lack of Education.
  • Children in Kashmir grow up caged and under the shadow of a gun. As the parents of many of them go missing, they are also forced to assume the responsibility of caregivers for their siblings.
  • The strain on social structures due to the loss of family environment, safe spaces and education and health facilities severely traumatises many of them and snatches their childhood away.

Conclusion

  • No curbs on democratic rights on the promise of development can justify inhumane treatment of children.
  • The civil society needs to speak out for the children of Kashmir or we will also be complicit in the ‘aggravated crime’ by the state apparatus.
  • The preventive arrests should be stopped lest the children of Kashmir go missing forever.

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