Despite a juvenile justice system in place in Jammu and Kashmir, children continue to serve imprisonment in jails. In the latest case, a juvenile from Kulgam was detained by police last Friday and, only after the intervention of the Juvenile Justice Board, the 14-year-old boy was sent to observation home for juveniles four days later.
Sajad Ahmad, member JJB Kulgam said, "On Friday (25th of January) I received a call from child welfare committee Kulgam at 11 in the morning that a juvenile from Qaimoh area of Kulgam has been apprehended."
Adding further, Sajad said, "We wrote a letter to the SSP Kulgam and asked him to produce the juvenile before the board within 24 hours, as is mandatory under the law, but they didn't."
On 26th of January at 1 p.m. after the Republic Day function was over, Sajad said, "I called the SSP and asked him to produce the juvenile before the board, but again nothing happened. On Sunday I went to SSP's residence and told him to release the juvenile and produce him before the JJB. On Monday the boy was presented before the JJB Kulgam and later was sent to the observation home at Harwan."
SSP Kulgam, Harmeet Singh said, "I will have to check this case. I don't know who was detained."
The continuous detention of juveniles in police lock-ups has raised questions on the standard operating procedures (SOP) followed by police in arrest of juveniles.
As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013, "As soon as a juvenile in conflict with law is apprehended by police, he shall be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated police officer, who shall produce the juvenile before the board without any loss of time but within a period of twenty-four hours of his apprehension excluding the time necessary for the journey, from the place where the juvenile was apprehended." The law prohibits police from locking up a juvenile or lodging a child in jail.
This is, however, not the first time a juvenile has been apprehended by police.
Earlier, a juvenile from southern Tral township was detained by the police but he was later sent to a juvenile home after this newspaper reported the story. The juvenile was charged under provisions of Arms Act, Unlawful Activities Act and for Attempt to Murder.
In January again two boys were detained by police – one from Awantipora in connection with a militancy related case and later sent to Kathua for questioning and another juvenile from Shopian in a militancy related case.
In December, six boys from Batamaloo area were detained by the police, but they were released following an intervention by the Juvenile Justice Board.
On October 29, a class 12 student from Shopian was picked by personnel of police station Imam Saheb allegedly in place of his brother and detained for two days, preventing the boy from writing his board examinations.