Child rights activists condemn police brutality on girl

February 3rd, 2009 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 3 (IANS) As television channels Tuesday flashed images of police officers repeatedly assaulting an eight-year-old girl in an Uttar Pradesh village, child rights activists condemned the incident and said that instances of police roughing up children are a regular feature, even in the capital. In a shocking display of brutality, police in an Uttar Pradesh village pulled an eight-year-old girl by her hair and repeatedly slapped her for allegedly stealing Rs.280.

The girl, Komal, cried and pleaded for mercy Monday as the cops in Etawah district’s Kailokhar village, pulled her up by her hair, twisted her ears and rained blows on her. Interestingly, the police found no money with the girl.

The incident was caught on camera and telecast across TV channels, following which the Uttar Pradesh police dismissed one inspector and suspended two other cops.

Child rights activists have condemned the incident and decried the inefficacy of cops in dealing with juveniles.

“One police inspector was dismissed, two others involved in the incident were suspended. That’s it? The incident must have left such a deep scar on the young girl - they (authorities) must think of her rehabilitation,” Shanta Sinha, chairperson, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) told IANS.

“Hers is a fortunate case - it was caught on camera. This happens all the time, right here in the capital - what can we expect from cops in a village,” said Rakesh Senger, national secretary of NGO, Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

“Police do not operate in a child friendly manner and do not have any knowledge of laws,” he said.

Under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 even if a child (minor) has committed a crime, police cannot take any action against him or her. Any decision can be taken when he is produced in court in consultation with a Juvenile Justice Board or child welfare committee.

“But in our country those who are to enforce such acts are the ones flouting them - many of them don’t have knowledge of it, let alone execute it,” said Senger.

Senger also said that in the country, 75 percent of police stations do not have the prescribed juvenile police.

“As it is, the number of police recruits is less, so when a child offender is taken to the police directly and not the juvenile police, they don’t know their limits,” he added.

There are over 100,000 children who live on streets and in slums of the capital and are especially vulnerable, according to NGO Butterfly.

Add to that 100,000 children employed as domestic child labour in Delhi.

According to Senger, these domestic help are often accused of theft when they attempt to leave their employer, and one can easily estimate how many children are ‘roughed up’ when they are allegedly caught stealing or involved in crime.

According to Pawan Sharma, the founder of Khoj Foundation that runs an education programme for street kids in the capital, there are deeper problems.

“These kids live on the street, if they have a problem, witness a crime or anything ideally they will have to go to the police to file a complaint - but they don’t. A majority of them are scared as they have faced the tough side of the police,” Sharma said.

“People forget child welfare… to my knowledge under the Juvenile Justice Act, cops are given training to deal with children - they forget. What needs to be done is that a dedicated task force must be available to deal with children and cops need to be sensitised,” Sharma added.

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