By Muzamil Bashir
The children of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Kashmir valley, have been the worst victims of a brutal armed conflict. A number of children in the valley have become victims of this. The heat of this conflict have also led to the arrest of juveniles and booking them under harsh laws like PSA. The juveniles after are kept in regular jails along with other criminals without proper care and security in the absence of adequate Juvenile homes. The protection and care of the juveniles arrested in the state have always been a issue of discourse in the intellectual and human rights spheres
According to the data furnished by the J&K State Government to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in its annual report, a total of 198 cases were registered against juveniles in J&K in which 319 juveniles were apprehended during 2016, According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 198 cases were registered against 319 Juveniles in J&K who were mostly apprehended during the 2016 unrest. Another survey conducted by Save the Children, a child rights organization revealed the number of orphan(ed) population in J&K at 215,000. The data has shown alarming results. In lieu of this, a proper system to ensure the protection and safety of juveniles as well as the care of orphaned children has become imperative.
A major initiative in the direction of child protection and care came in the form of implementation of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in the state. The ICPS has been launched in 2009 under the aegis of the 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 and those in conflict with law, setting up of child protection structure – state child protection society, capacity building, and advocacy and so on. The target Groups of this scheme are children in need of care and protection, children in conflict with the law, children in contact with the law.
While ICPS has already been launched in the state, but its implementation on a full scale is still a distant dream. Although the State Government has implemented certain provisions of the ICPS, the important provisions have been kept under the carpet. Despite increasing number of juvenile arrests in the state, the government has failed to establish Juvenile homes in each district which is important to make healthy changes visible. The only Juvenile home in Harwan established in 2011 is already gone, congested and choked to the highest level. The functioning of already established Child Welfare Committees needs to be revived on a regular basis to audit the performance of its members. Imperfect and inefficient implementation will generate flawed results. The essence of the ICPS is shattered by its partial implementation. ICPS has sowed the seeds of Juvenile and child protection in the state; now the need of the hour is to implement it on full scale so that a healthy ecosystem will be generated for the children in conflict.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org