Two Decades Of Militancy Spikes Juvenile Crime In Kashmir

Two Decades Of Militancy Spikes Juvenile Crime In Kashmir

2 February 2013
Deccan Herald
Zulfikar Majid

Srinagar: Juvenile crimes, which were a rarity in Kashmir Valley a decade ago, have seen a sudden upsurge in the last few years. In November 2011, two teenagers killed their friend in south Kashmir Pampore town just to snatch his iPad. In a daredevil act, they had strangulated him with a waist belt resulting in his instant death. In a shocking incident, an adolescent son killed his businessman father in Dalgate here a few years back. Zubair Nazir had killed his father Nazir Ahmad Mahajan as the father was trying to discipline him as the head of the family. In Natipora, a teenager tried to cheat his father of Rs 5 lakh by staging a kidnap drama a few months back, which was later cracked by the police. These aren’t isolated cases. According to officials, juvenile crime in Kashmir is on the rise over the past decade. Altho­ugh exact data on the number of crimes committed by juveniles is not available, a senior police official said, it could be in hundreds. However, despite the prevalence of juvenile crime in Kashmir, there are no provisions of mental health programmes or counselling to control the crime rate. Unlike others places in the world, which have school mental health programmes and counselling for children and youth to fight the menace of juvenile crime and delinquent behaviour, Kashmir has none. A survey carried out by doctors at the Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital here reveals that a majority of children and adolescents in Kashmir have a low level of tolerance and get provoked on relatively minor issues. Kashmir’s leading psychiatrist Dr Mushtaq Ahmad Margoob told Deccan Herald that emotional distress, psychological problems and psychiatric disorders have definitely taken a toll on this most impressionable sub-group of population. “Compared to a child or an adolescent of 1980s, present age kids are short-tempered and get provoked on relatively minor issues. Most of the children have witnessed many events in the last over two decades which would reflect adversely on the psyche of any human being in any part of the world,” he said. Dr Margoob said the present uncertain situation and conflict-related factors significantly contribute to the development of negative behavioural tendencies. “Alarmingly high percentage of adolescents is falling prey to drug abuse and many other self-destructive tendencies,” he revealed. Dr Margoob, who is Head of the Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College, Srinagar, warned that if the problem is left unattended, the situation could go out of hand in future. “If the situation remains the same, it could lead us to a disaster. Institutions and places linked with building the character and future of youngsters will change into den of drug addicts, working places will become abode for criminals and other immoral activities and such developments will lead us to hell,” he warned. Problems of the children, he suggested, have to be addressed at a very young age to fight juvenile delinquency or juvenile crimes. Dr Akash, a psychiatrist who has conducted a research on post traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) among children and adolescents in Kashmir said irritability and aggression were the primary complaints. “Bad parenting like dictatorial attitude of parents, conflict between father and mother, spending less time with the children and loss of a parent in early childhood could make a child aggressive. If anger isn’t managed properly, it can result in aggression, which in turn can lead to violence,” he added. Prof Bashir Ahmad Dabla, Head of Kashmir University’s Sociology Department, cites higher degree of materialism, lack of moral values and lack of social accountability as some of the reasons for the problem. “All these things are inherent in modernisation which we have adopted in recent times. We shouldn’t wait for the climax but try for social initiative to curb it. Religious network and cultural ethos must be strengthened to fight the problem,” he said. “The children, exposed to free-spending western lifestyles, no longer want to inherit, they want to grab,” Prof Dabla added. “Juvenile detainees need proper counseling to prevent them from future wrong actions. Many a time we note that juveniles are detained for one crime but they are involved in many other crimes too. So, they need counselling to prevent them from indulging in any big crime,” he added. He advocated the need for a mental health programme to fight juvenile crimes in Kashmir. “Kashmir is the only place in the world which does not have mental health programme in schools or educational institutions,” Prof Dabla said. He said that counselling and mental health programmes can play an important role in bringing down juvenile crime rate in Kashmir. “It will identify the conflict of a child and his problems at very young age and counsel him to change, thereby preventing his criminal actions,” he added. Minister for Social Welfare Sakina Itoo said that the setting up of counselling centres for juveniles is on the cards. “Be it crimes, drug addiction or depre­ssion among the youth, we are taking every possible initiative to fight them. Counselling is most important requirement. We are working on this and will soon come up with some thing concrete,” the Minister added.