Srinagar, Apr 24: Experts have questioned the recent ‘criminal law amendment ordinance’ approved by the President of India for providing death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below 12 years of age.
The law was approved in the backdrop of sexual assault and murder of minors in Kathua and Surat and the rape of a girl in Unnao.
Jammu and Kashmir Government also approved an ordinance on Tuesday to allow courts to pronounce death penalty to child rapists.
However, in absence of Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences (POCSO) in Jammu and Kashmir, the experts decry the death penalty for child rape cases, as sought by the proposed ordinance.
POCSO Act aims to offer protection to children (individuals below the age of 18) from sexual violence including sexual assault, sexual harassment, and the inclusion of children in pornography.
Habeel Iqbal, a lawyer at Shopian Court, accused J&K government of “playing to the gallery”.
“They are pandering to populism. The government has failed to bring in a law on the lines of POCSO. The government has not formed the commission for protection of child rights, but is quick to resort to the decadent practice of death penalty,” he said.
Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor at Kashmir Times, said the death sentence would not act as a “deterrent” but will prove “counterproductive”.
“I completely oppose it. First, it goes against the basic humanitarian principles of justice. If there is a death penalty for rape, it will be followed by murders, as the rapist will try to wipe off the evidence,” she said.
Bhasin also pointed out that the cases of rape and sexual violence were more rampant than what was being reported.
“Majority of the sexual violence cases is perpetrated by those known to the victims. They don’t come out because of the stigma attached. The death penalty will further stop them from reaching out to the authorities and report the crime,” she said.
The senior journalist stressed that state responsibility should be more towards ensuring a fair “investigation and prosecution” process rather than making “stringent laws”.
“The prosecution in every case that comes should ensure that every victim has confidence in taking recourse to legal justice mechanism,” she added.
Rebecca Mammen John, a lawyer at Supreme Court, wrote on Facebook, “Cases collapse in India because of poor investigation. That’s hardly going to change because the government has announced that child rapists will be awarded the death penalty. No rich, powerful well-connected man has been awarded the death penalty. It’s the poor, badly represented prisoner who gets the harshest punishment.”
Supreme Court advocate, Vrinda Grover has been quoted by a national daily saying, “Far from reporting the crime, death penalty is going to deter the victim from reporting sexual assault when the offender is from the family or is known to them.”
“This will lead to the crime being suppressed and the victim being left completely helpless. Without strengthening the investigation process or the prosecution, creating an enabling environment both in the court and outside, and improving the conviction rate, the sentence is irrelevant.”
Global rights groups, the Amnesty International and the CRY also termed the Union Cabinet’s decision as a “Knee-jerk reaction” and said it could possibly be a “threat to the judicial process”.
In the aftermath of rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old nomadic girl in Kathua, ‘Save the Children’, an international non-governmental organisation that promotes children’s rights, in a statement said: “poor status of implementation of laws is an issue of urgent national concern”.
“While the Indian government has enabled progressive laws like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and the Criminal Amendment Act, 2013 but the poor status of implementation of such laws, as reflected in the cases of Kathua, Unnao and Surat, is an issue of urgent national concern,” the statement reads.
While Chief Executive Officer /Mission Director ICPS /Juvenile Justice, Hilal Bhat said that POCSO has not been extended to JK.
“The draft bill is ready and it will be implemented shortly,” Bhat added.
BSF officer killed, 4 soldiers injured in cross-LoC firing
Jammu, Jan 15: An Assistant Commandant of Border Security Force (BSF) was killed in a ‘sniper fire’ by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) in Samba district of Jammu on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, three BSF personnel and an army soldier were injured in separate incidents of firing along Rajouri and Kathua districts of Jammu.
Quoting a police official, news agency GNS said that Pakistan army opened sniper fire upon the BSF posts along the fence at around 10:50 am on Tuesday resulting in serious injuries to the officer identified as Assistant Commandant, Vinay Prasad.
He was immediately taken to a nearby health facility of army, from where he was airlifted to military hospital Satwari, Jammu, the official said.
“The officer succumbed to the grave injuries in the evening,” the officer added.
Meanwhile, three BSF troopers and an army soldier were injured, two of them critically, after the armies of India and Pakistan traded fire along the Line of Control (LoC) and international border in Rajouri and Kathua districts.
Official sources said that two BSF men and an army soldier posted along the LoC near Sunderbani sector of Rajouri were injured in the firing.
“One among the injured BSF men was identified as AnirbanChatterji, who suffered critical injuries and has been shifted to military hospital Satwari Jammu,” officials said.
The army soldier identified as Akash of 6 Jat Rifles and other BSF personnel, whose identity could not be immediately established, have also been admitted to hospital.
In another similar incident, a BSF trooper was injured when Pakistan troops fired on Indian pickets along the International Border (IB) in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district on Tuesday. The injured trooper has been taken to hospital for treatment.
There was a fresh exchange of fire between India and Pakistani army in MendharMankote and Balakote areas of Poonch and Kalal of Nowshera Rajouri.
In these areas, shells landed in some residential areas, following which the local moved to safer places.
An official of the BSF confirmed all these incidents and said that “our troops guarding the fence returned fire effectively and strongly”.
The officer said that in wake of growing incidents of ceasefire violation and sniper attacks, the Indian troops guarding the fence in all these areas has been put on high alert.
Govt issues appointment orders to 921 medical officers
Jammu, Jan 15: To augment health care facilities in the rural and far flung areas of the state, Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Department Tuesday issued appointment orders to 921 Medical Officers recruited on fast track basis.
To fast track the recruitment process, the H&MEDepartment had made relevant provisions in the rules and SRO, which paved the way for making the recruitment process a time bound exercise.
Pertinently, the department had referred one thousand vacancies of Medical Officers (MOs) of the Jammu and Kashmir Health and Family Welfare (Gazetted) Service to the J&K Public Service Commission (JKPSC) for making selections. After conducting the written examination, the J&K Public Service Commission finally recommended 921 candidates for selection as Medical Officers.
The H&ME department completed the process of recruitment in a record time of 3 months and issued appointment orders to the selected candidates.
Out of total 921 Medical Officers appointed by the department, 35 have been posted in district Anantnag, 18 in Bandipora, 58 in Baramulla, 28 in Budgam,119 in Doda, 33 in Ganderbal, 32 in Jammu, 52 in Kargil, 84 in Kathua, 46 in Kishtwar, 62 in Kupwara, 30 in Kulgam, 33 in Leh, 27 in Pulwama, 81 in Poonch, 56 in Ramban, 57 in Rajouri, 16 in Reasi, 08 in Samba,15 in Shopian and 41 in Udhampur.
Of these, 185 Medical Officers with specializations have also been posted in different districts of the state.
As per the Government order issued in this behalf, the appointees shall submit their joining reports to their concerned Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) within a period of 21 days and in case of failure to join within the stipulated period, the appointment shall be deemed to have been cancelled ab-initio without any further notice.
Meanwhile, Governor Satya Pal Malik, Advisor to Governor K Vijay Kumar and Chief Secretary B.V.R Subrahmanyam have conveyed their best wishes to the newly appointed Medical Officers with the hope that they will work with zest and zeal to provide best healthcare services to the people, particularly living in rural and far flung areas of the state.
The selected candidates can visit www.jkhealth.org for the selection list and to check the details of their place of postings.
JNU case: Joint Hurriyat seeks withdrawal of charges against Kashmiri students
Srinagar, Jan 15:Joint Hurriyat Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Yasin Malik has strongly denounced the sedition charges and filing of charge sheet by the Delhi Police against Kashmiri students pursuing studies at Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU).
The leadership said the charges will have serious consequences on the academic and future career of the students.
The Kashmiri students include Aqeeb Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, MuneebHussain,UmairGul, Rayees Rasool, Khalid Bashir, Basharat Ali.
The leadership said the students only participated in the programme organized by JNU students Union in 2016 to condemn the hanging of Muhammad Afzal Guru, who was hanged in Tihar Jail under shadowy circumstances without even informing his family members and in contravention to all established norms and rules.
The leaders said to book the students in 2019 clearly exhibit the vote bank politics of the ruling dispensation.
They said to harass the Kashmiri students pursuing studies outside Jammu and Kashmir is not a new practice, earlier in many universities and colleges Kashmiri students have been harassed even beaten up, forcing them to drop the studies incomplete and return home
“The Joint Hurriyat appealed International Human Rights Organizations ICRC, Asia Watch, Amnesty International and other humanity loving nations to take serious notice of these nefarious practices carried out to ruin the carriers of the Kashmiri students,” a spokesperson of the amalgam said.
JNU Case: Delhi court to consider chargesheet on Jan 19
New Delhi, Jan 15: A Delhi court Tuesday fixed January 19 for consideration of charge sheet against former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar and others, including seven Kashmiri students, in the 2016 JNU sedition case.
The court put up the matter for hearing on the date as Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Deepak Sherawat was on leave Tuesday.
The Delhi Police had on Monday filed a chargesheet at a city court against Kanhaiya Kumar and others, saying he was leading a procession and supported “seditious slogans” raised on the varsity campus in February 2016.
Police also charged former JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during an event on the university’s campus on February 9, 2016, to commemorate the hanging of Afzal Guru.