Globally, India is often praised for having worlds’ largest youth population as compared to the most powerful and developed nations such as the U.S. and China. Therefore, the country has an ability to face any situation and crisis with collective consciousness and energy of the youth.
“My hope of the future lies in the youths of character, intelligent, renouncing all for the services of others, and obedient good to themselves and the country at large”, said the great Indian philosopher Swami Vivekanand. But, sadly this hope seems to turn futile with the recent spurt in the crime cases registered against juveniles. If we look at earlier data and figures of various NGOs and NHRC, such crimes were restricted in the backward rural areas due to lack of education and awareness among the youths. Now, the scenario is different as children from affluent families are stepping into the world of crimes. Under IPC about 34,000 cases were registered against children below 18 years of age in the year 2014. Later, seeing such rise in the crimes, the Union Cabinet passed a proposal to amend the Juvenile Justice Act in 2015. A section of lawyers and NGOs criticised this reform but there were many others who believed that this amendment was a need for the goodwill of the society and next generation. Further, this act was an effort to prevent juveniles from committing heinous crimes like rape and murder. The proposal seeks to try juveniles between 16 and 18 years as adults if they have been accused of heinous crimes, under laws meant for adults. Moreover, former IPS and incumbent Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Kiran Bedi wrote in the Hindustan Times, “The amended Juvenile Justice Act is a message for several sections of society. If each one of them appreciates this, society will be safer. And we will have more responsible generations.”
The whole world left shocked when the Nirbhaya Gang Rape Case took place, rape is such a barbaric crime but Nirbhaya Case crossed all the levels of shame and inhuman behaviour. Further, a charge sheet on the case declared that the juvenile suspect assaulted the female student twice and pulled out her intestines with his bare hands. The juvenile also wanted to strip the victim naked and throw her off the moving bus. Though all the accused were arrested and charged with sexual assaults, the juvenile defendant was released on 20 December 2015. And it was then that people protested against his release and just after two days of release, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2015 was passed by the Rajya Sabha.
This year in Ryan International School Murder Case, the Class 11 student of RIS Gurguram, was arrested by the CBI for allegedly killing seven-year-old Pradyuman Thakur. The shocking revelation in the case was that a student was killed by his senior because he wanted to get the exam postponed. Really! Is this what we learn at the temple of knowledge? A mind that needs to be nurtured with good thoughts and values, used a sharp-edged weapon to slit a child’s throat. Later, the juvenile confessed to his crime in front of his father and an independent witness.
Just a few months later, another crime occurred and it ripped our souls apart when Delhi Police filed a case against a four-and-a-half-year-old boy. Obviously, it was hard for many of us to believe in the authenticity of the news due to accused’s age. Also, how can a child whose mind is less likely to even grasp a word would carry out such a crime called rape? Yes, you heard it right rape, a child was booked for raping his classmate, who is of the same age. After the victim’s mother told that her daughter confessed, a boy unbuttoned her pants and used his finger and a sharpened pencil to assault her sexually. Further, in her statement to police, she said after returning from school her daughter complained of pain in her lower abdomen. It was then, she noticed her child was sexually assaulted and her private parts were wounded.
Within a week, another painful incident came into the limelight: a class 5 student in Ghaziabad sexually assaulted a class 2 student. Don’t you think these juvenile criminals are entitled to strict punishment? Sadly, the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides children below seven years of age certain protections against prosecutions and juveniles can’t be charged under the law. However, if they can commit a crime in the age of innocence then without a second thought, they are old enough to deserve a legal punishment for it. And now, it is high time to re-frame the lines for such criminal acts as all these cases were among the cruelest crimes enacted by the juveniles this year.
By the end of November, it was felt that our society will learn from these incidents and teenagers will now act as responsible citizens. Unfortunately, there was no change and UP police recovered two dead bodies in Greater Noida West. After an investigation, it was revealed in the case that the criminal was a 16-year-old teenager who killed his mother (42) and sister (11). While citing a reason for killing, the boy said that he was often scolded by his parents over his poor performance in school as compared to his younger sister who was brilliant in her studies.
For this changing scenario and bitterness in teenagers, we can blame a few things such as peer pressure, Internet exposure and the violence shown by media channels. But, two wrongs never make one right.
The Greater Noida twin murder case has blown out all the hopes for a positive society filled with moral values as not just the surroundings, even the air we breathe has become so polluted that teenagers have lost both their childhood and innocence. And with that, it also seems that we have lost our country’s future.