Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It is disturbing when children commit crimes, but to punish them as adults is an even bigger tragedy

Incredible but true - Kashmir lacks a Juvenile Justice System

Passed 11 yrs back, Juvenile Act awaits implementation

Wasim Khalid (Rising Kashmir)

Srinagar: Passed in 1997 in Jammu and Kashmir, the Juvenile Justice Act is yet to be implemented here. The State Government has not implemented the Juvenile Justice Act although it was promulgated in India in 1987 and introduced in Kashmir in 1997.

However, the act has got entangled in “official intricacies”. Social activists here said that it is unfortunate that the State has not implemented the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act even after 11 years. “There is no Juvenile Court to hear the cases of the children,” said Rouf-ul-Mohiudin, a founder member of Jammu and Kashmir Yateem Foundation. “After 10 years of propagation, the act still has not been implemented,” Mohiudin said who runs a resource centre on social issues, ‘Koshish’. “The recommendations of the act demand that State should form rules for juvenile courts to become functional.”

He said as no rules have been formulated for the last decade, the same adult laws apply to children.“After arresting the delinquent children, police treats them as adults. They are kept in with other prisoners and forced to undergo the same court procedure as other criminals. So they are weird completely after undergoing such an experience,” said Mohi-ud-Din. “They are ruined in jails.”

Social activist, Shaiq Nazir said if juveniles are not taken care of, it would embolden criminal tendencies among the children. “This would ruin the new generation.” Nazir said: “In conflict region like ours, the troopers are not authorised to arrest a child while spotting uniform. During questioning of a juvenile, a lady constable should accompany the child.” Nazir said that last year three children were detained in Central Jail Srinagar and informed that they were kept with desperadoes.

Another social activist Nighat Shafi Pandit said, “If established, Juvenile Courts could give proper hearing to the children who commit crime. Otherwise if they are kept with criminals, they would inherit the same traits and ape them.” Pandit said that the juvenile courts would also strive for rehabilitation of such children. “They are taken special care so that their thinking changes.”

Legal expert said the accused up to 16 year of age are sent to juvenile court for trial.“But in the State, their cases are heard by the Chief Judicial Magistrate. It is because the Government has framed no rules for the Juvenile Courts,” said CJM Srinagar Advocate Irshad Ahmad Masoom.

He said that the purpose of the legislation was to protect children from exposure to the criminal culture and to rehabilitate them. “There is scope of rehabilitation of children under this Act. If children commit crime, they are taken to juvenile centres. Their needs are fulfilled and their criminal tendencies minimised,” said Masoom. He said unemployment and modern lifestyle have led to increase in the crime rates among the children. “It is unfortunate that the act is not implemented,” Masoom said. “During the past 18 years children have been victimised and used as a resource by militants and military.”

Director Social Welfare department, M Abbas said that the department has taken up the case with the government on this issue.He said establishing the Juvenile Courts is the first preference of the department. “Due to non-availability of funds, we could not proceed further. We have no funds to build juvenile homes,” Abbas said.

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