children's rights not protected in India, ACHR study
Club of India, New Delhi: The rights of children who are vulnerable
because of their caste, ethnic origin, religious belief, economic
status and national origin or simply living in armed conflict situations
are not protected in India and they are not included in the draft
National Plan of Action for Children of 11 October 2003 of the government"
- stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights
while releasing its 161 page study, The Status of Children in India
at the Press Club, New Delhi.
who are caught in armed conflict situations in 14 out of 28 States
are worse off. Hundreds of children are subjected to arbitrary arrest,
torture, rape, custodial death, and extrajudicial executions every
year at the hands of both the security forces and the armed opposition
groups. On 18 May 2003, members of the armed opposition groups slit
the throat of 4 years old Irshad Ahmed and 2 years old Mehroof Ahmed
along with four women at Mehra Chokian village under Rajouri district
of Jammu and Kashmir. Their only fault was - their father was a
police. On 26 May 2003, three Special Police Officers of Tripura
raped a Reang girl at Gandacherra and pushed a cane up her sex organ
causing serious injuries. Often, there is little difference between
the law enforcement personnel and the armed opposition groups.
large number of children, especially in Jharkhand, have been arrested
under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. On 9 July 2002, 14
year old Mayanti Raj Kumari, a student of Class VII has been arrested
for allegedly waging war against the State (under Sections 121 A
and 122 of the Indian Penal Code) and POTA while returning from
her school. She is presently detained in Ranchi jail and not in
a juvenile home.
government has little concern for the juvenile delinquents. In a
reply to Rajya Sabha on 3 December 2001, the government stated that
there are no juvenile detainees in Jammu and Kashmir. It is because
Jammu and Kashmir state government has not taken any measure to
implement the Juvenile Justice Act of 1986, let alone replace it
with Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 until today.
The juvenile delinquents are being kept in District Jail of Jammu
along with harden criminals. Hundreds of minors across India are
languishing in jails along with adult prisoners, as the Magistrates
do not order age verification involving scrutiny of birth or school
certificates and bone ossification tests if a suspect seems under
the Dalits are considered "untouchable" - too "polluted"
to be touched - the rape of Dalit women and girls, who represent
the honour of the community - by the upper caste is a commonplace.
The SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 has failed to combat
caste atrocities due to low rate of conviction - 5.4% out of 31,011
cases in 1998.
a result of caste bias of the administration, judiciary and most
importantly, those who enforce the law, the police. Only 10 States
out of 28 States and 7 Union Territories have established Special
Courts despite the increasing caste atrocities as reflected from
registration of 34799 cases in 1999, 36,971 cases in 2000 and 39,157
in 2001 under the Act.
peoples, Adivasis, have been disproportionately affected by displacement
- the Scheduled Tribes who constitute 8.1 percent of the total population
also constitute 55.16% of total displaced people. This had serious
affect on overall development of tribal children. The government
continues to use colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1894 to displace
the indigenous peoples from their lands.
million out of 35 million out of school children in the age group
6-14 years are girls. What is most condemnable is "not only
allocation earmarked for education was inadequate but funds allocated
for secondary education from 1995-96 to 1999-2000 were not fully
and properly utilised". Similarly, on elimination of child
labour under the eighth plan, out of Rs 100.76 crore sanctioned
by the government, more than only 25% were not utilised. Under the
ninth plan too, the funds remain unutilised. The conviction under
the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act is extremely low
- after carrying out 24,985 inspections from 2000 to 2002, prosecution
launched in 99 cases, which resulted only in 13 convictions.
of thousand children including the descendents of the victims of
partition are deprived the right to nationality and therefore, denied
access to education, land ownership, employment etc. These include
children of Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh, Mohajirs in
Andhra Pradesh, Punjabi refugees in Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistani
Hindu refugees in Rajashtan. The Centre has failed to implement
the Supreme Court judgement on the grant of citizenship to the Chakmas
government discriminates against "politically expendable"
refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). While Sri Lankan
Tamil refugees are provided protection and assistance, between 20
July and 19 August 2003, over 5,000 Myanmarese asylum seekers and
their children were refouled from Mizoram. Similarly, while the
Kashmiri pandits are provided "cash relief of Rs.600/- per
head per month subject to a maximum of Rs. 2400/- per month per
family plus other assistance, the Reangs from Mizoram are provided
Rs 80 per adult per month and Rs 40 per child per month. Majority
of over 500,000 conflict-induced IDPs in India are tribals from
policies and practices and impunity either through non-implementation
of the laws and court orders or through legislative measures such
as section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code, section 6 of the
Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 and section 19 of the Human
Rights Protection Act, 1993 justify and encourage violations of
the rights of vulnerable children. Unless the government adopts
a policy of zero tolerance against violation of child rights, ends
impunity and adequately empowers the proposed National Commission
for Children, the disadvantaged and vulnerable children, who require
special protection and measures, will be denied their fundamental
more information please call Director of Asian Centre for Human
Rights in New Delhi, India
at +91-11-25503624 or 25620583