Youths protest against the release of juvenile in Nirbhaya case
A day before the juvenile convicted in the December 16 gang-rape of a young paramedic Jyoti Singh, known as Nirbhaya, is to be released after three years in a remand home in New Delhi, a protest led by the victim’s parents erupted outside the home. It culminated, on Saturday evening, in the detention of Nirbhaya’s parents and others by the Delhi police, even as the former juvenile was shifted from his north Delhi correctional institute to an “undisclosed location” outside the capital. Sources said the juvenile has been kept under observation of an NGO under protection of Delhi Police amid concerns that there is threat to his life.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal angrily tweeted that he was shocked at the police action and had asked the chief secretary to talk to the police commissioner. Later in the evening, Jyoti’s parents were released.The protest was another symptom of the anxiety gripping the capital over the juvenile’s release. A recent demonstration held by certain civil society groups and the Centre for Social Research spoke out strongly against his release, asking for proof that he had “reformed”. They also asked for protection for Jyoti’s parents.Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal wrote to the President Pranab Mukherjee, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and the Principal Magistrate of the Juvenile Justice Board, Murari Prasad Singh, asking for a stay on the boy’s release.Amidst this furore, there have been some voices asking people to give the justice system a chance, especially in the light of the after care provision where the boy would be monitored periodically for two years. This provision is for those who are recognised as no longer in conflict with the law but are in need of care and protection till they get back on their feet. A senior officer with one of the city’s remand homes told dna that this includes providing accommodation with a group of peers, certain financial support till the person in question is able to provide for themselves.The officer added, based on his experience of dealing with juveniles, that everything a child becomes is formed by the society they have grown up in, all what they have been exposed to. Whether they are in an observational home for a few days in judicial custody, or a remand home for a few years after conviction, no amount of counselling and intervention will help unless they have a support system when they go out.”Though we have engaged mental health experts to understand the children’s’ psyche, what they’re dealing with, they go back to same, unchanged, circumstances outside the institute,” said the officer. “They find that what they have been taught and counselled on doesn’t work in these communities. They and their parents need support systems, so they know who to turn to when they need help. Right now, they don’t have that, and their families have no resources to get them help.”Children don’t realise the consequence of the habits they pick up, till they turn into addictions, the officer added, or criminal behaviour. Often they are trapped by their circumstances. We can teach them, said the officer, to recognise their mistakes, and right from wrong, so that hopefully they will be able to choose their path outside.However, counselling has shown to help these juveniles settle into law-abiding lives after they leave these correctional facilities.Bharti Ali, co-founder of the NGO HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, said that with minimal counselling they had been able to reduce the rate of repeat offenses to half, in the cases they dealt with. This juvenile too, she added, had received counselling, but could have got more. “He was witness to something extremely brutal on 16 December, and he needed help getting over that,” she said.Both Ali and the officer refrained from commenting on what would happen to the former juvenile after his release. Ali did add that the society needed to have “faith” in the juvenile justice system, and in the state’s claim that it would monitor his mental health.