Youth Bias in Kashmir

A grave concern is deeply engraved in the minds of people that young boys are incarcerated in prisons and become a focus of violence in street battles. Both parents and authorities need to be aware of the putative dangers prescient in the society and governance. All their efforts at anti-insurrection policies are now converging on the young people of the population, a double jeopardy that punish both physical and intellectual development. In their formative years when they should be in schools, receiving education in mental and educational development, they become unwary pawns of strident politics. They die bringing an end to a life that may have been productive or get injured and handicapped. There are many thousands who pass through the treachery of jails and are languishing in high security prisons, brushing shoulders with hardened criminals. They are held in constraints by rough jailors and wardens and exposed to criminal contamination.

Time in prison is not a trivial matter especially so for children under 18. In Kashmir they may spend time in prisons under domestic laws and laws designed to keep them in or append new offences to prolong sentences. International laws obligate member States to abide by the statutes agreed by them. Even in conflict zones they are entitled to [(Convention on the Rights of Children CRC 1990) A-3] survival (A-6-1) development (6-2) expression (A-12) and most important of all A-37 of CRC wherein no torture or degrading punishment must be inflicted on youth or A37-b dictates that they are not deprived of liberty and incarcerated. Detained and deprived of their freedom in preemptive detention and torture like thrashing them in jails is forbidden.

Any attempt to expose the rationale of this policy by the authorities leaves a vacuum about where in this process any benefits accrue. The means of least resistance used in defense is security concerns and curbing resistance movement. In its face the policy is counterproductive and has shown in practice that more growing up youth out in streets with more vehemence and commitment are backed by more thematic education. The authority with focused attention on the youth sends angry message to the parents waiting for them to return home unharmed. These punishments cannot be a deterrence to repeat offenders for the simple reason that they do not perceive their crimes as wrongs committed by them and has a negative impact on their burgeoning minds. A youth in prison for thieving may benefit in his character building growth as a straight citizen of an appreciative society when he gets his freedom. What will a Kashmiri prisoner detained and tortured for political reasons think when he is restored back to the society? Will he be a reformed person or a broken and frustrated maverick that had lost his way? There is enough evidence in the historical evolution of the uprising in Kashmir from 6-7 decades with massive loss of life, stone pelting encounters causing serious injuries and complete blindness that there is no let up in the fervor for political emancipation. A minor episode can flare up to a huge scene of battlefield in the streets as we write, indicative of a sign that there are undercurrents of surging sentiments boiling over.

We can create metaphysical arguments as to the truth or false either way, but in common understanding of good governance we cannot justify the actions of such intensity taken against the youth with no apparent benefit.
As reports in the press remind us the top military officers have often reiterated that they are capable of wiping out all forms of militancy but the ultimate solution to Kashmir must be political engagement. The interlocution exercises have been unproductive and lost even their basic value of a gesture. Authorities having used the upper limits of the stick also try the carrot. There are offers of excursions, admissions to universities, sports, and open door policy of entering the job market within security establishments. Every inducement or offer has passed scratching surface despite the fact that Kashmir has suffered in economic and development sectors due to the pre-occupation of governance with security in beefing up the strident policing and security apparatus. A beautiful prodigy of nature Kashmir is a police state full of iron and blood. Force is visible with police everywhere. Anyone who is anybody in administration, governance, judiciary or politics is surrounded by security at great cost to the nation. It becomes a pageantry when statements of achievements flow describing how many youth are eliminated (emphasis not mine) or apprehended. A job deemed done to satisfaction. In epistemic avenues to value , a remedy of truth they overlook is how many more come into circulation.
There are legal issues of local law involved in interacting with youth. Battery as an offence is well defined in Penal Code laws. Any intentional offensive touching with the intent to cause harm is assault and Battery or aggravated assault putting the victim in fear. Section 352 IPC offenders are punished with 3 months sentence and 500 rupees fine. There is clear evidence of assault on Kashmiri inmates in Tihar jail Delhi. In a democracy the size and stature of India the recent incidents of assault must be investigated and action taken. The first time offenders of stone throwing youth have been released is a positive gesture but this trend has to be encouraged towards the overall picture of treatment of the young citizens meted out on a day to day basis. The basic issues are dealt with essential to address the overall politics of the region.