Juvenile Home is just another jail
Children Brought Handcuffed, Locked Behind Iron Doors
SHABIR IBN YUSUF
Srinagar, Aug 31: From the fortified windows of the two-storey building of the juvenile home here, some children are seen watching the hustle bustle in the nearby Harwan Gardens. They wave their hands and seem to join their free counterparts in the garden. These children, undergoing imprisonment for different faults, are locked behind iron doors.
Since 2008, the Government has detained dozens of children on charges of stone pelting and taking part in separatist protests. Recently the detention of 12-year old Faizan of Srinagar for taking part in anti-Government protests made headlines. A class 6 student, Faizan was charged by police with harsh accusations like ‘waging war against the State’ and ‘attempt to murder.’
For a common person, entering into the juvenile home is no less disturbing. The building is highly fortified. Besides the fencing, the building is covered with concertina wire. For a visit, a written permission from Director Social Welfare Department is a must. When this correspondent entered the home, the imprisoned minors were peeping through the iron doors. They disappeared in seconds as they were warned.
“They peep through these iron doors expecting that somebody has come to meet them,” says a policeman.
The juvenile home is no different from a jail. It has 18 rooms for minors and every door and window is iron made which are always locked. “It pains us all,” says Superintendent of the home, Ghulam Ahmad Manphoo. “I only teach these boys to desist from their wrong acts. I cannot help them other than this,” he says.
Manphoo says that he took charge of the home four months ago and did not allow police to bring the children handcuffed.
The ground floor houses the office of the Superintendent, a dining hall, recreation hall and a filthy kitchen.
All the doors to the first floor, which houses the prisons for the minors, are iron made and locked. The keys are with the police personnel. It has 18 rooms and each room has six beds with shabby bedding.
The minors can’t venture out of their rooms.
“We are more careful now. Some days ago three minors tried to flee,” says Manphoo.
The inmates’ parents can meet their children once in a month. “But we allow them to meet a few times in a month on our own,” a policeman says.
In a room the children were sitting on their beds, but were quite frightened. This correspondent tried to speak to some of them, but they did not talk.
Though the Superintendent tries his best to help and guide the minors, their living conditions are miserable. “I ask them to study and we have books of every class here. Recently I took an inmate to appear for his school examination,” he said.
He says though they are trying to provide good food and other amenities to the children, but the Government is paying peanuts for the same. “Government pays mere Rs 50 per day for each detained minor which is a mockery. We had written to the Government to double the amount, but there is no reply,” he says.
The home is guarded by the cops of Jammu and Kashmir Police. “It is a jail for we people,” a cop posted at the juvenile home said. “But it hurts us when children are brought here, most of them handcuffed,” he adds.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 31 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 31 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 1 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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