Detaining minors won’t be easy for police

Detaining minors allegedly involved in street protests and other “offences” will no longer be easy for police in Kashmir as all such cases will henceforth be dealt by a special officer.
Officials said on directions of Director General of Police, S.P Vaid, a special officer of the rank of Sub-Inspector will be posted in police stations to deal with cases of “juvenile delinquency.”
“We have extended full support to ensure juvenile justice system is put in place in the state,” Vaid told Kashmir Post. He refuted reports that minors were booked under PSA during last year’s summer uprising. “We can’t book any minor under PSA, it’s not possible,’” he said.
The police have come under severe criticism for arresting minors under Public Safety Act during last year’s uprising triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Civil rights activists have slammed the government and police for lodging minors in prisons “alongside criminals.”
“After the Integrated Child Protection Scheme was put in place, there is a proper mechanism in place to deal with minor offenders,” said Mission Director, ICPS, Talat Pervez. He said police can’t directly arrest minors now.
“The cases pertaining to minors will be dealt by special police officers,” he said. “After assessing the nature of the crime, he/she would be handed over to Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) or Child Welfare Committees (CWCs).”
He said the state was lagging behind in juvenile justice system but with JJBs and CWCs, the situation will see improvement.
More than 9,000 people, including minors and elderly, were arrested during the last year’s uprising.
Advocate Shafaqat Mir, a well-known civil rights defender, contested the police claims that no minors were booked under PSA.
“Police fudges the age of the minors in the chargesheets,” he said. “By the time we produce the proof of the minor’s age or have him examined by a Medical Board, he happens to be detained under PSA.”
“Sahil Ahmed, a minor, was detained by police under PSA in Kathua jail in Jammu, last year,” Mir said, adding: “When I met him he was so terrified by the treatment in jail that he began crying loudly.”
He said since 2008 summer uprising, he has taken up cases of 50 minors who were booked under PSA.
According to recent data of State Crime Investigation Department, the street protests have shown manifold increase in the past three years.
As per official data, at least 800 juveniles were lodged in Kashmir’s only Juvenile Home at Harwan area of Srinagar since 2011.

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