Dear kids, today with a heavy heart let me confess that we failed to protect you from the lynch mob. Many of you are not born yet, many of you suddenly got your adulthood at the premature age of 16 and you may not still know what danger lies ahead.
Many of you are not born yet. Many have suddenly become adults (only to be considered as criminals but for no other rights), we have now officially and legally reduced your childhood. In recent past, we could hardly give quality childhood to most of you. Now we have decided to officially rob you of your innocence as we lost to the bloodthirsty intolerant mob – thirsty for your blood even before you are born. These are your own parents or family members but they felt this necessary. Ironically only a month back we (me included) fought an intense battle to prove that India is a tolerant nation. I know Aamir is probably laughing at my hypocrisy now as I am going to prove that intolerant India won, and this time with their blood thirst for the young and innocents.
Ironically the ministry that is supposed to safeguard your interests and make sure that your future is secure has decided to give you some harsh treatment for the sake of another portfolio it enjoys, i.e. the grown-up women, who are ever innocent than our kids and ever vulnerable from everyone including our kids. So, kids, you had lost the battle of your rights only because of the absence of a ministry solely working for your welfare and probably because you are no vote bank.
I know, those of you who are from well-to-do families don’t bother about this, but this is for the poor and marginalized of you who do not get education, love, care affection of anyone, who are treated badly ever since their birth. As a state, we have decided to disown you now. Instead of trying to understand the reasons behind some of you coming in a conflict of law, your own minister claimed in parliament, that kids in conflict with law say to the police, I quote her here –
“Maybe a very small percentage will go to jail due to this Bill. But it certainly will stop a sixteen-year-old from going to a thana saying, ““मैंने झुग्गी को आग लगा दी है, मुझे जेजे में डाल दो, मैंने पचास गाड़ीयां चोरी की है, मुझे जेजे में डाल दो, मैंने अपनी पड़ोसन का बलात्कार कर दिया, मुझे जेजे में डाल दो।” (English in short – I have committed heinous crimes, send me to JJ). [Maneka Gandhi during RS debate on JJ Bill Amendment]
It is indeed everyone’s guess how much the above would be true. Another Hon. Member of Parliament Smt. Anu Aga had to describe the pathetic condition of children homes and expressed concern that once sent there no child would want to revisit those again. Your minister agreed while giving an answer to one question, that there is no one to talk in favour of those unfortunate kids, even if they are extremely abused in those juvenile homes.
But dear kids, what your minister said to convince the other members of parliament about the necessity of this bill was clearly visible as a lie to many of us because there is no way that those underprivileged children would know of such a thing like juvenile homes existing. Many of us, who work for human rights in this country was not even aware of our family laws and provisions unless we got a taste of them, and I am talking of most educated, cultured and erudite people of India. Many of us are from India’s premier institutions and working in most prestigious organizations. When we were not knowledgeable about our laws and provisions we don’t understand how illiterate and underprivileged children who are in conflict with the law would ever talk like that.
But that was not the only misinformation told in the parliament. The data presented to show that India’s 16-year-olds have become most dreaded criminals projected only the number of cases filed and not actual convictions and many parliamentarians have refuted the data and gave real stats. Even media brought that to light later.
Dear kids, as a nation we couldn’t ensure your basic rights. Rights to education, food, shelter. We could not ensure even love and affection to save your childhood, instead, we wanted to take revenge on you. We have shown you that eye for an eye mechanism has replaced our attitude towards our kids now. By saying that you will be treated like adults after 16 years of age, we are not saying that you will get other rights like – say, voting rights, marriage rights, property rights etc; what we are saying we will send you to adult prisons and even though you will not be kept with hardened criminals, you will find the rigor of your early perceived maturity.
We didn’t hesitate to violate our constitution in doing so. The safeguards available to you under Articles 14, 15, 15(3) and 21 are all violated, under the premise of one bad example. It is as if I got severe cold once, so everyone else of my age needed to take medicine.
What is even more disturbing is what was told to the people that the juvenile was the cruelest in Nirbhaya case was not true. But still, our media propagated that until last moment. Many parliamentarians believed that to be true. Thankfully your minister clarified that in Parliament that it was a misinformation spread by the media.
The parents of Nirbhaya have taken the battle against you to a different level. They wanted media to use the real name of their daughter and told every media about this. It was as if they wanted the benefits pouring in for them in the name of Nirbhaya was not enough but they wanted govt. funds and policies in the real name of their daughter.
Many of us who were shocked by the incident, were disgusted by this publicity stunt. We have also seen celebrities openly saying that they were raped in their childhood and suddenly we saw getting raped as a symbol of empowerment. A new craze, new-found feminist fantasy to shame India.
There was a section of media and many women who have openly violated set principles of not disclosing the name of juveniles in a conflict of law, and the juvenile didn’t want his name to be disclosed, too. But the bloodthirsty mob spilled the bins. Many of us were afraid that he would be killed by the mob after release. Luckily the NDA govt. didn’t behave like UPA govt. in 2013 and managed the situation well.
Dear kids, (girls included) please also note that this new act is gender neutral. So our govt. rather your ministry believed that young girls can commit a crime or tell lies but they still don’t believe that adult women can tell lies or commit crimes. That is why Domestic Violence or Rape laws in India are still not gender neutral. Even while passing the POCSO Act govt. demanded that it was gender neutral. A reason explained only by vote bank politics that keeps our adult women as children and vulnerable forever.
Today, I am deeply ashamed as your predecessor who could not save you kids from this danger. Now boys are in greater danger because when a 16-year-old boy gets raped by a > 18-year-old adult woman, it will still be considered as a rape by the boy and he will be sent to adult prison. The adult criminal will move freely on the pretext of being the victim and continue to hunt other young boys. If a boy is brainwashed into any of these heinous crimes (say terrorism – ISIS takes juveniles and brainwash them to be suicide bombers) by adults, it will be considered as an adult crime by the child.
Moreover, when as a society we can’t give you the required benefits, education, facilities to grow up as a mature adult, we expect that you should learn these on your own by magic. We, the most educated, trained and erudite people of India give our verdict from our glass houses and want to abolish the society that lives on the footpath, the children who earns a living by cleaning our shit, who sleeps on footpath and dream of small things as big success, the children who want to prove all the time that given a chance even they could make it big, very BIG and in the process of fulfilling their dream they commit crime; we blame them because in our society we have ostracized the marginalized and the poor.
This is the reason dear kids, most of the people who received the death penalty in India are also from the poor and marginalized, most often not heard, most often without any direct evidence and in all cases based on their own confessions taken by police torture as this 2014 National Law University study shows.
Dear kids, if you understand the implications of what we have done to you in 2015 Dec, do ask your parents why they had given you such a bleak future. Yes, it is your parents who have decided this future for you. They were a part of the lynch mob that has lynched you even before your birth.