Gruesome act |Everyone's pained, let everyone protest

As if  last year’s  traumatic experience   of  Khatua    was not enough  to  lacerate our moral fiber  – where a teenage girl fell prey to the lust  of  the demented males and lost her life  – another female toddler has met with the near  same fate in Sumbal,  Bandipur.  Understandably,  whole Valley  is up in  outrage. Alas ;  we don’t   have  a hint that  other parts of the state feel same way.

What can one say of a society which   has no compunction   in taking up  adversarial positions    even  in a matter as despicable as  rape  and death of a  girl child?   We have seen in the past  and continue to see  it today. Indifference of other parts of the state   to the tragedy  is the   illustration.    Rape    is an assault   on    female victim’s     total  being     and      lacerates  society as a whole.  It doesn’t stigmatize victim  alone but shames us  all .

Is this   other   aspect of collateral damage the   three decade old conflict has   inflicted on us?  The constant  violence – physical and psychological  – created by the    ongoing conflict has instilled   in us  a sense of a fear, vulnerability and helplessness.  We have become desensitized  even  to ourselves   and    feel happy  to    construct  “ the other “  to  make him an object of suspicion and    accusation. We have   been   afflicted with a malaise that even a crime against  women is taken as  an object to raise passions    against  one   another   and    set up  competing    political  postures.  Far  too   extraneous  and   inappropriate    matters  are   interjected  in to deflect the    real   issue.  

 This is our tragedy that  we tend to see everything  in terms of ‘ Azadi    and  Nationalism “ One    must  understand  that   in  this    political     game  the  only  beneficiary is     perpetrator of the   crime. Our    quest to   outsmart one another on  a political chess board    ends  up  in denying justice to the very person for whom  we claim to stand up .   Such is the  extent   that even  we   view  the matter in  religious and regional  terms   which ought to  be   seen in  unadulterated term  as a heinous crime   committed  not only  on  a teenage girl  but  against us all.  That   factor  alone  should   determine our   response  to this inhuman  act.

This is  the time  to listen  to  Mirwaiz Ummer Farooq’s   who  counsels calm and self introspection  and  advises against getting swayed  by   emotions, lest the victim is denied justice.

   Crime  is  community,  caste  and    creed   neutral. There should not be a selective      indignation   nor a community   based   approach    towards it. Nature of  the  crime committed  on a  teen  aged  girl    is  anger arousing, across the board.   We must  rise in one   and   demand that   the perpetrators  of the crime  be brought to the justice.

 There are allegations that the accused  has, in connivance with a school teacher, manipulated his DOB  to  show him minor    to escape the   rigor of the law . There is a public  demand that accused in this case be charged  under  POSCO  law and not RPC. It is pertinent to  note  that   state   has drafted The  Jammu  and Kashmir  Juvenile Justice ( Care and Protection  of Children  ) Bill 2018  –   which proposes   to replace  J&K Juvenile  Justice   ( Care And Protection of Children ) Act 2013   .   

 The Bill   has incorporated    significant provisions to the Juvenile law  of the state  which  are found   in   the Central   Juvenile Justice  ( Care And Protection of Children)  Act  2015 . These measures are   with respect to the children who are in the age group of 15 -18   and for streamlining   the     adoption  process. This  marks an  improvement over  Juvenile Justice ( Care  and Protection of children ) Act 2000  –  now repealed.

 The Bill   introduces  concept of  “Judicial Waiver System  “. According to Sections 15 -18 of the Bill, a child who has completed  or is above  the age of  16 years   and is alleged to have committed a heinous offence   shall be     tried as an adult.  Heinous offences  are   those   offences for which the minimum punishment under RPC or any other law for the time being in force is  imprisonment  for seven years  or  more.

 The Bill has evoked strong reaction among some circles in    Kashmir. Objection  has been   taken   on the grounds  that  Judicial Waiver will be detrimental  to the  youth of the Valley   and   the Adoption provision will affect State Subject laws and  demographic   character of the state.  It is   said  that under the Judicial Waiver  System  many ‘ innocent’ children   will  be booked.   Even a poor stone-pelter will fall in the net   who, in the given legal frame work, would be dealt with  rather leniently. Remember,  Waiver  would be invoked only if children in 16 – 18   age group commit    heinous offence.      As  per the National Crime Record Bureau,  in the year 2011 -64 % of the crimes  has been committed by juveniles  between the age of 16 -18, including   heinous  crimes.    Sooner  than latter our state will have to contend with the  challenge. The Bill  introduces   comprehensive provisions     regarding Adoption and Foster care.    It is inappropriate    to  invoke Art 370      when Bill  makes  no departure  from   these provisions.  The  emerging  situation demands an unbiased look at the whole issue.

 But then     law   alone   will not yield desired results. We need a specialized and    sensitized    Police personal  to deal with the  situation arising out of an outrage caused  against  women  – more so where victim is a child.  Society cannot shirk its responsibility.

(B L Saraf is Former Principal District & Sessions Judge)