Youth Bias

The first time offenders of stone throwing youth have been released is a positive gesture, but more need be done

Dr. Abdul Majid Siraj
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 13 2017 10:14PM | Updated Date: Dec 14 2017 11:34AM
Youth BiasFile Photo

It is becoming a common concern that Kashmiri youth are becoming the focal point of attention for the authorities in the State.  All their efforts at anti-insurrection are now converging on the young people of the population. The 200 killed or handicapped in Kashmir last year as claimed by the police have an average age of 18 which in legal terms is classed as children.  In their formative years when they should be in schools, receiving education in mental  and epistemic development, they are languishing in high security prisons, brushing shoulders with hardened criminals and their hardened keepers and wardens and exposed to criminal contamination.   Time in prison is not a trivial matter especially so for children under 18.  They are still entitled to be treated to their best interests [(CRC 1990) A-3] ensured survival (A-6) or given full right to expression (A-12).  Detained and deprived of their freedom in preemptive detention and torture like thrashing them in Tihar jail is forbidden and perpetrators like the jail officials dealt with three month sentences.   

Any attempt to debunk the rationale of this policy by the authorities leaves a vacuum about where in this process ends up in a law abiding society and benefits accrue. In its face the policy is counterproductive and has shown in practice that more growing up youth out in streets with more vehemence and commitment backed by more thematic education.  The authority with focused attention on the youth sends angry message to the parents waiting for them to return home unharmed.  These punishments cannot be a deterrence to repeat offenders for the simple reason that they do not perceive their crimes as wrongs committed by them and has a negative impact on their burgeoning minds.   A youth in prison for thieving may benefit in his character building grow as a straight citizen of an appreciative society when he gets his freedom.  What will a Kashmiri prisoner detained and tortured for political reasons think when he is restored back to the society?  Will he be a reformed person or a broken and frustrated maverick that had lost his way?    There is enough evidence in the historical evolution of the uprising in Kashmir from 6-7 decades with massive loss of life, stone pelting encounters causing serious injuries and complete blindness that there is no let up in the fervor for political emancipation.   A minor episode can flare up to a huge scene of battlefield in the streets as we write, indicative of a sign that there are undercurrents of surging sentiments boiling over. 

We can create metaphysical arguments as to the truth or falsify either way, but in everyday epistemic terms cannot justify the actions taken against the youth.   It is very soon forgotten that the youth are members of society who have a family and loved ones at home and stone pelting is not a sport.  They hurt and get hurt.  This behavior in normal circumstances shows as delinquency, which is a disorder emanating in broken homes or maltreatment towards the child in schools or at home. There are organic forms of aberrant behavior, very rare and fall in the psychiatrist domain. These boys have an occult support when they leave home and more education is available to legitimize activism in streets. 

As reports in the press remind us the top military officers have often reiterated that they are capable of wiping out all forms of militancy but the ultimate solution to Kashmir must be political engagement. The interlocution exercises have been unproductive and lost even their basic value of a gesture.   Authorities having used the upper limits of the stick also try the carrot.   There are offers of excursions, admissions to universities, sports, and open door policy of entering the job market within security establishments.   Every inducement or offer has passed scratching surface despite the fact that Kashmir has suffered in economic and development sectors due to the pre-occupation of governance with security in beefing up the policing and security apparatus.  A beautiful prodigy of nature Kashmir is a police state full of iron and blood.   Force is visible with police everywhere.  Anyone who is anybody in administration, governance, judiciary or politics is surrounded by security at great cost to the nation.  It becomes a pageantry when statements of achievements flow describing how many youth are eliminated (emphasis not mine) or apprehended.  A job deemed done to satisfaction.  In epistemic avenues to value, a remedy of truth they overlook is how many more come into circulation.  

There are legal issues involved with interacting with youth.  IPC on Battery is defined.    Any intentional offensive touching with the intent to cause harm is assault and Battery   or aggravated assault putting the victim in fear.  Section 352 IPC offenders are punished with 3 months sentence and 500 rupees fine.  There is clear evidence of assault on Kashmiri inmates in Tihar jail Delhi.  In a democracy the size and stature of India the recent incidents of assault must be investigated and action must be taken against th guilty.  The first time offenders of stone throwing youth have been released is a positive gesture but only makes an exposition of what the overall picture of  repressive treatment of the young citizens are meted out with and how little the basic issues are dealt with essential to address the overall politics of the region.


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