Human Rights

As prisons remain over crowded with juveniles in JK, govt says it is building boards in every district

Photo Credit: Shahid Tantray.

Srinagar: Despite increasing number of juveniles in prisons in Jammu and Kashmir, the government’s claims that juvenile homes would be set up in every district has remained confined to papers only. The successive governments over the years have been saying that they would set up juvenile homes and boards in every district of the state.

It was on record said by the minister Choudhary Zulfkar Ali that the government would soon establish juveniles homes in every district of the state to expedite protection, rehabilitation of juveniles back into the society.

However, on the ground, nothing much has been done.

“Juveniles need free environment and can’t be treated as prisoners. They need a good space to play and sit in. But nothing such has been done in this regard,” an official said.

The Kashmir valley has a lone juvenile home at Harwan Srinagar that was established in 2011, looked after by the Social Welfare Department. The juveniles from across the valley involved in crimes are being accommodated there.

“It has received over 1,100 juveniles in the last six years,” an official of the Social Welfare Department, said. The official said that Harwan juvenile home remains “overcrowded”. “It does not have adequate space to accommodate increasing number of juveniles,” the official said.

According to the Juvenile Justice Act 2013, the government is to comply with the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013, and Rules of 2014 made under the Act, which include setting up of the Juvenile Justice Boards.

Under the Act, every accused below the age of 18 years should get a humane, kind, child friendly treatment and the police officer should not be in uniform when they talk to the juvenile. No juvenile can be kept in the police station at night as per the Act.

However, one of the top officials of the government said that juveniles’ boards and homes are being set up in every district of the Valley in view of inadequate space at Harwan juvenile home. These boards and homes are being established under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme.

“Once the juvenile boards and homes are established, then there is no need to bring juveniles to Srinagar. It is for the convenience of juveniles and their families,” the official said. “There was no concept of ICPS and the previous government had kept the scheme pending for few crores,” the official said.

The J&K government signed a MoU with the Centre in 2013 for implementation of the ICPS.

Under the scheme, the state had to set up State Child Protection Society (SCPS), Juvenile Justice Boards (JJBs), Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) and Special Juvenile Police Units (SJPUs) in all districts and designate a child welfare officer in each police station.
The funding pattern for the implementation of the scheme has been put as 90% (Central Share) and 10% (State Share).


(With inputs from KNS)

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