By Muzamil Bashir
The children of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Kashmir valley, have been the worst victims of a brutal conflict. The conflict has consumed the children of the valley both mentally and physically. The protection and care of the juveniles arrested in the state have always been a matter of debate among the intellectual and human rights circles. The juveniles after being arrested are kept in regular jails along with the hardcore criminals without proper care and security. This leads to the severe mental as well as physical issues among them.
The initiative to counter this issue came in the form of ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme). ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme) has been launched in 2009 under the aegis of Union Ministry of Women & Child Development with the objective to provide a safe and secure environment to the children who are in need of care and protection as well as children in conflict with law. The ICPS intervention includes, inter-alia, financial support for setting up and / or maintenance of Homes for children in need of care and protection etc. The Target Groups of this scheme are Child in need of care & protection, child in conflict with law, child in contact with law.
The Juvenile Justice Act 2013 also calls for setting up of the Juvenile Justice Boards. The Act also states that the government may within a period of one year from the date of commencement of the Act, by notification in the Government Gazette, constitute for every district or a group of districts or each division of the state, one or more Juvenile Justice boards for exercising the powers and discharge the duties conferred on such boards in relation to juveniles in conflict with law. But , despite increasing number of juvenile arrests in Jammu and Kashmir, the government has not been able to establish Juvenile homes in each district. According to the reports the only Juvenile home in Harwan established in 2011 has already gone congested to the highest level.
The Government has already constituted the Selection-cum-Oversight Committee, under the chairmanship of Justice Hasnain Masoodi which is primarily an Apex body for monitoring and evaluation of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS). This Committee also has the mandate for the formation of Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs) in the state. But , the essence of the ICPS and Juvenile justice Act still remains to be unfulfilled. There is a strong need to accelerate the process of establishing of Juvenile homes in each district for the welfare of the children in need of care. The Juvenile homes will contribute in the overall mental and physical growth and development of the children arrested by the police. These can also provide a home like environment for blooming of the juveniles and inculcate the sense of optimistic adventures. The children in conflict will flourish and will not be treated as hardcore criminals and will attain a positive attitude in the juvenile homes.
—The author works with the Integrated Child Protection Scheme(ICPS), District Baramulla. She can be reached at: [email protected]