GUWAHATI, July 23 - Over 800 minors, including nearly 80 girls, were found in conflict with law across the State in the last five years or so, a rising trend that has raised alarm, especially vis-a-vis they becoming repeated offenders.
Meanwhile, proposals for two new observation homes for underage children in Kokrajhar/Bongaigaon and Karbi Anglong/Dima Hasao are being prepared by agencies concerned, sources in the social welfare department told The Assam Tribune.
Assam Police records suggest that of the 775 juveniles caught in conflict with law between 2012 and 2016, 73 are girls. The number of such underage offenders sent to correction/observation home during the same period stood at 55, of which a majority of 44 such offenders are from Kokrajhar district.
Darrang recorded the highest number of juvenile crimes with 169 such minors found in conflict with law, followed by Jorhat and Dibrugarh at 68 and 68 such cases. As per records, almost 1,360 cases were pending with the juvenile justice boards for disposal as on March 30 this year.
Giving an overview, criminal lawyer Bijon Kumar Mahajan said that a juvenile in conflict stands vulnerable to becoming a repeated offender after coming out from observation home due to lack of proper care and protection both at their residences and at observation centres.
“The infrastructure and facilities at juvenile homes in the State are inadequate to deal with their psychological and psychiatric disorders. Once released from such homes, care and protection at residence becomes very crucial. Family atmosphere in such juvenile offender’s house is very often not found to be conducive, which is also a matter of concern,” Mahajan said.
Child rights activist and founder of UTSAH, Miguel Queah said that recurring natural calamities and conflicts compound the situation for children.
“In Guwahati itself, contrary to the popular narrative of being a developed city, there are approximately 50,000 children living in resource-constrained slum settings. With family adults caught up with survival strategies, children are often neglected and they end up working as child labourers, mostly coming in contact with criminal gangs who push them into various crimes,” Miguel opined.