June 8, 2017
Alarming rise in petty crime by juveniles has the police at its wits end, often leading them to resort to third degree methods to extract confessions and solve petty crimes, says NGO ChangeIndia.
Juveniles for ever are under attack – from child abusers, most often relatives. But they are not less risk of being detained and tortured by police, illegally against the established norms and the law. Third degree treatment meted out to suspects, including minors detained by police, is common to ferret out confessions in cases of theft and petty crime.
A NGO – ChangeIndia – detected a shocking but similar instance of minors being confined in a police station and beaten up black and blue to extort a confession of bike theft from them. Three persons, two of them minors, were held and kept in Chintadripet F1 police station in Chennai on Wednesday. Anxious relatives huddled outside the police station even as the police personnel were raining blows on the children throughout the evening. The NGO lobbied with the DCP, Triplicane, and managed to secure the release of the boys at around 11 p.m.
Similar instances were highlighted in the past too, said A Narayanan, Director, ChangeIndia, who recalled the December 2015 incident when 3 juveniles were brutally tortured and another 19 year old in custody and had pushed them to do unnatural, beastly sexual acts in order to extract ‘’confessions’’.
Further, he said, on January 7, 2014, a minor was brought to the police station, Neelangarai in the early hours, tortured and threatened at gunpoint and later shot “accidentally” by the station officer. In March, 2016, a boy was picked up by police and thrashed in connection with a theft case. Ultimately, the police threw the badly injured boy out as they realised that it was a case of mistaken identity. In october 2016, a 17-year-old boy, who lost his hearing due to custodial torture by the Mylapore police in an earlier case in March,2016, died when he drowned in Coovam in Pudupet, when chased by the police in some other alleged case.
Narayanan said instances like this are many. Most of the cases go unreported as well, not only in Chennai but all over Tamil Nadu, he said.
It is a fact that juvenile crimes are on the rise. “Quite a few juveniles, mostly school dropouts and street children take to petty crimes such as mobile snatching, chain snatching, vehicle theft etc on account of their contact with adult criminals and their exposure to liquor and drugs. The police are under ‘pressure’ to show ‘results’ to their bosses. But, this cannot condone the detaining of juveniles and using torture on them as a method,” Narayanan said.
The JJ Act,2015 and various directions of Supreme Court clearly lay out emphasis on humane and sensitive treatment of juveniles by police. Unfortunately, these laws and directions do not mean anything to most of the police personnel on the field. There is complete lack of awareness about the child rights laws and scientific management of prevention and investigation of crime by the police.
Activists of CHANGEindia just completed social auditing of 50 police stations in Chennai and found that in several police stations, juveniles were kept inside the premises and also the lock up.
It’s time, the government, police, parents, media and judiciary wake up to the reality of more number juveniles taking to crime and getting brutalised by the policing system and ways and means of preventing juvenile crimes as well as the difficult task of mainstreaming errant juveniles back into the society. Humane treatment of juveniles by police, whatever be the provocation is non-negotiable, the head of the NGO said.