Stone pelting, theft and rape top charges juvenile offenders face in Kashmir

Stone pelting, theft and rape top the list of crimes juveniles in Kashmir are accused of, official data reveals. 

Of 1823 juveniles lodged in the Kashmir’s lone observation home at Harwan since 2011, over 1002 have been booked on charges of stone pelting. 

Of these, 988 have been bailed out and 14 are still lodged at the observation home.

Stone throwing is following by charges of theft and robbery 228 juveniles were facing in the list of offences.

Out of them 226 have been bailed out and two were at Harwan.

The data further reveals that 142 cases of rape by juveniles have been reported by the observation home in the last over eight years.

Almost all the countries in the world have a Juvenile Justice system to deal with its young offenders. It was only in Kashmir that the minor boys were kept in police lockups until recently.

In 2010 when a wide scale public uprising broke out in Kashmir and children found involved in cases of stone pelting were picked up by police, the need for having an observation home was felt where children would be lodged and counseled.

Subsequently, an observation home was created in 2011 at Harwan. For two years the home for juveniles was working without any rules governing its functioning.

Later, a law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2013 was created.

This law provides for the development of the system to look after the children in need of care and protection as well as for the rehabilitation of the juveniles. The law asks for creating observation homes, special homes, shelter homes, and children homes.

According to this law juveniles in conflict with law cannot be prosecuted as adult criminals in the court of law. It is thus mandatory under this law to develop a process that helps to rehabilitate and make future lives of these children, free from the stigma of past activities.

Since the observation home started functioning, a total of 83 cases of kidnapping have been reported.

Similarly, 67 minors have been booked for murder and 66 found involved in ‘Quarrel cases’.

Over 42 juveniles have been lodged at the observation home for having links with the militancy and 25 booked for possession of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS).

The data also reveals that 29 juveniles have been lodged in the home for wrongful restraint, assault on women under section 341, 354 Ranbir Penal Code, 25 juveniles in accident related cases and 15 in ‘ exam fraud or cheating’.

A dozen juvenile offenders have been lodged at the observation home on attempt to murder charges, five for anti national acts, two for explosives case and five for border cross or criminal conspiracy. 

Apart from these offences, some juvenile offenders have been booked for other crimes like fire, poison, gambling, attempted suicide and anti-religious offences. A total of 1823 juveniles have been lodged at the observation, of them 1784 has been bailed out, and 36 are currently lodged there.