Thursday, 14 July 2016

Is Durg Juvenile Home a symbol of a broken juvenile reform system?

Source: Clipper28

Durg, July 14: In a telling comment on the functioning of juvenile remand home housing sixty juvenile accused of heinous and simple crime from the adjoining seven districts, no one in the accompanying team couldn’t answer to the queries of the Durg District and Session Judge Nelam Chand Sankhla, as to who is the responsible authority of the remand home.

The Judge was on a visit to the violent hit remand home at Durg trying to know the reason behind a recent spate of indecent and violent assaults in the remand home. There was a pin drop silence and none replied to the queries of the surprised Judge perhaps because those in charge of manning the remand home and controlling the juvenile accused were either absconding or out on bail.

On Monday, a tiny group of juvenile accused whose age are being contested under the impact of liquor is reported to have stabbed a constable and beat two other employees of the remand home and with the support of all inmates virtually laid siege in the remand home driving out all, climbed the terrace of the remand home, broke a under construction wall and pelted bricks upon all the officials including the Durg Collector and SP present in the remand home to negotiate peace.

Finally, well aware of the awaiting fate the entire juvenile accused went at large one by one without any resistance through the front gate of the remand home. About fourty of them returned the next day with their parents and the remaining along with the main accused, two juveniles of Rajnandgaon are at large.

Pelting stones at the armed security forces and getting killed in the process is common in Kashmir. But here at Durg in Chhattisgarh a strange situation developed as the provisions of Juvenile Justice Act prevented the men in uniform enter the premises of the remand home as the juvenile accused went on run riot pelting bricks.

District Judge Neelam Chand Sankhla pointing towards an innocent looking juvenile of less age said these incidents is a cause for great worry and conscious efforts should be made to separate handful of trouble shooter juvenile accused with violent mindset from others. He also suggested the presiding judge of the remand home to write letter to the Durg SP seeking provision of constables from the District Special Branch in the remand home to prevent such untoward incident.

A reform system that ‘reforms’ the juvenile is at place in the juvenile remand home at Durg. The remand home as an incharge superintendent one Patel is now under suspension. He is not willing to take any responsibility as he doesn’t have the authority to sign papers. According to him, the Woman and Child Development Officer Jamulkar the signing authority is responsible. The signing authority visits the remand home once a while as he is entrusted with the responsibility of the children in the entire district. So, it is the responsibility of managing the remand home lies upon the likes of the two juvenile accused from Rajnandgaon.

The juvenile remand home at Durg is a cluster of one-storey barracks spread over more than five acre at Durg behind Pulgaon PS. It is the largest remand home for boys under 18 and holds over 60 children. Most of them, incarcerated for petty crimes like chain-snatching and pick-pocketing, are either a drug addict t or are acquainted with liquor. A handful of boys like the two accused of Rajnandgaon in this case were in for rape and under arms act.

Following recent amendments they were under the threat of being tried as adults in a magistrate court. Following the violent incident the investigators have registered a case against them and they along with some others would be treated as adults.

On the incident day the arms act juvenile aged 17 created a scene as the visiting doctor didn’t cure him for the injury he sustained on his leg. He was insisting to go alone to any doctor outside. The presiding judge Mohini Konwar along with a constable in uniform Santosh Deshmukh entered the remand home to pacify the agitated juvenile and assure he would be cured. The juvenile tried to stab the presiding judge entrusted with the responsibility of granting bail and punishing but the constable intervened and was injured.

Behind the 10-foot-high walls and series of six gates, the older boys like the Rajnandgaon guys hold sway. The smaller weaker boys and new comers are terrorized for money. Liquor and drug abuse is rampant and the juveniles with criminal mindsets also have access to knife and other weapons. The remand home is managed by the older boys with criminal mindset.

Liquor and drug in form of tablets to drug are easily available in the observation home across the wall. Boys there either pay the security guards to obtain their drugs or act as drug mules for peddlers outside. One Home Guard cooperating with the ‘juveniles’ was not only treated properly by Durg SP Amresh Mishra but is also behind bars after the incident. They get drug tablets when they are taken to attend court hearings and even have the freedom to go out and get them from the Durg market without scaling the wall.

The weaker and new comer boys are savagely beaten inside. A juvenile rounded after the derogatory facebook posting row was not only beaten but kept in the toilet and forced to eat shit. Social workers say remand home employees sometimes encourage groups to discipline inmates and encourage violence to discipline new inmates a source of income to them and the ‘controlling guys’.

Sodomy is rampant, says another observation home inmate. "The bigger boys drug the weak and vulnerable and then do bad things to them," said an inmate out on bail. “Here is a tremendous apathy and contempt in dealing with juveniles," says R B Gupta, a lawyer.

The children are seen as criminals and are treated thus and after this incident efforts are being made to treat a large number of juvenile accused as hardcore criminals.

The probation unit that is meant to monitor the progress of boys, once they are with families, has no pre-release and post-release follow- up plans. The remand home in Durg is clearly only a symbol of a broken juvenile reform system.


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