Lack of proper infrastructure and adequate food allegedly caused the inmates of an observation home in North Delhi to go on the rampage recently. The incident that occurred at the Delhi Government-run Adharshila Observation Home in Majnu ka Tila caused child rights activists to protest against the condition of juvenile homes, while the government maintained the problem was not as simple as it seems.
The 16-18 age group
Delhi Minister for Women and Child Development Kiran Walia said: “We accept there is need for a serious re-look into the various problems in the homes and measures being taken to ensure that these incidents are not repeated. However, this is a very complex situation that we are dealing with. The 16-18 years age group is not an easy one to nurture and re-integrate with the society. Most of these boys are part of large gangs involved in committing heinous crime.”
“We have rehabilitation, de-addiction and counselling programmes for the boys which are aimed at ensuring that they are given a chance to re-integrate with the society, but it has not been easy so far. We have to re-look at our strategies. There is also the problem of the older boys making weapons out of the things, terrorising young boys and not co-operating with home staff,” added Dr. Walia.
The Delhi Government has ordered an inquiry into the allegations made by the inmates, and the warden at Delhi Government-run Adharshila Observation Home has been questioned about the recent incident.
“In case people inside the home are found guilty of misconduct, strict action will be taken against them,” added the Minister.
Stating that juvenile homes are not jails, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Vinod Tikoo said: “Sadly the attitude of seeing it as one [a jail] has hampered the real improvement work that should be carried out for the inmates. These homes have to be managed in a manner that is most beneficial to the youngsters who, for some reason, have fallen out of the social network. The aim has to be to re-integrate them with the system in a manner where they are able to achieve their potential and provide constructively to the good of the society. The truth, however, is that not even one juvenile home meets the standard set for them.”
He added that the juveniles have to be given proper counselling, put into educational institutions, given age-appropriate meals and looked after mentally, physically and emotionally.
“These are the children we want to bring back into the society. We have to be very clear about our aim, ” he said.
The commission has also noted that there has to be a strict segregation of children from those who are now “too old to stay in these homes.”