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No special courts, child-friendly spaces for child abuse victims

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Srinagar, Apr 17: Successive governments over the years have failed to implement several laws protecting women and children against sexual harassment.

Official sources said that one such law is protection of children against sexual offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) was enacted by the government of India in 2012.

 

It 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.

The law has been extended throughout the country except in J&K.

“The primary reason as to why this law couldn’t be extended to the state is because child protection mechanism in still in infancy,” an official said.

As per the officials, there are no special courts or child-friendly spaces for child sexual abuse victims.

The offenders are tried before regular criminal courts, they said. He said that Act also prevents “re-victimization” by adopting child-friendly measures. “The victim doesn’t have to face police personnel or judiciary at the time of testifying,” he added. The State Welfare Department has proposed to establish Child Welfare Committees under Integration Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in all districts. The initiative aims to provide relief and ensure the protection of vulnerable children. However, the proposal is yet to be implemented on the ground. Similarly, most of the government departments in Jammu and Kashmir have failed to constitute Internal Complaint Committees (ICCs). The government had directed several times to administrative heads of all departments to constitute ICC to address all complaints of sexual harassment at workplaces and submit action taken report to the government with specific recommendations, in accordance with rules.

General Administration Department (GAD) issued orders several times, says that administrative heads of their respective departments shall constitute committees at the state, divisional and district levels.

However so far, most of the government departments have failed to constitute the ICCs despite directed by the government.

Over the years, there have been number of times, when women faced harassment at work places.

But most of the time action was not been taken. “We need committees in every college in Jammu and Kashmir,” a woman professor teaching in one of the colleges in Srinagar, said. She said her colleague faced harassment once in the college. “When she complained to the principal, she was told that she should instead remain silent as there exists no sexual harassment committee, which could investigate the incident,” the official told KNS.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 was enacted by the central government on December 9, 2013, and under Section 4 (1) of the act, every head of the department is required to constitute an ICC to check sexual harassment at workplace.

The law says every institution or organization where 10 or more women work, there should be an ICC to check cases of sexual harassment against women.

Under this law, sexual harassment’ includes, physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually colored remarks or showing pornography. It prescribes strict punishment, including termination of service, for the guilty. (KNS)

 


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Kashmir

FB’s #10 yr challenge: Netizens mock languishing govt projects in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Jan 20: The #10year challenge–the latest rage on Facebook is triggering an unintended consequence in Kashmir.

It has thrown light on the abysmal pace of execution of key developmental projects.
In Kashmir, the government works are conceived and launched with much fanfare, but years, and in some cases decades, pass before they see the light of day.

The #10year challenge, new fad that has taken Facebook by storm and involves a person juxtaposing his or her decade-old photo with the current one, has seen Kashmiri people sharing photos of the incomplete government works here.

 

Netizens mostly share two similar photos of an incomplete pillar of the Jehangir Chowk-Ram Bagh (JCRB) flyover project, which was announced in 2009 and is still incomplete.

The project has missed multiple deadlines. To shut up the criticism they were receiving for the delay, the authorities opened up one way traffic on the first phase of the project, the overall completion of which is still a distant dream.

Announced in 2009, the construction on the flyover, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at an estimated cost of Rs 359 crore, began in 2013, with September 2016 set as its first deadline. The then chief minister Omar Abdullah had laid the foundation of the flyover.

Apart from JCRB, the other major projects which were started years ago but are yet to be completed include: Boulevard widening project, construction of tunnel on the Mughal Road, and widening of an arterial passage in the capital city, Syed Meerak Shah-Zakura road.
Government had approved the Boulevard widening project in 2009 and had directed the concerned authorities to complete the project on fast-track basis. However, the project is yet to be completed.
The next project following suit is the construction of the tunnel on the Mughal Road.
Fourteen years since the Government of India approved its construction, the project is yet to see the light of the day. The project was approved in 2004, when the PDP shared power with Congress in the state. The proposal was for seven-kilometre long tunnel between Zaznar and Chathapani at 3,000 meters altitude on the 230-year-old Mughal road.
However, the work on the project is yet to be started as a result the road remains closed for nearly six months each year.
Similarly, in 2009 authorities started expansion of the Syed Meerak Shah Road from Dalgate to Zakura, primarily for facilitating smooth flow of vehicular movement through congested areas of old city Srinagar.
The widening project for the 10.33 kilometre road estimated at Rs 336.24 crore was aimed to serve as key surface link to old city Srinagar, Hazratbal shrine and the University of Kashmir. However, ten years have gone by but the project is still lingering.

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Kashmir

257 militants killed in 2018 is highest in 4 years

Agencies

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New Delhi, Jan 20: Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the killing of 257 militants in 2018 – the highest in four years – by government forces, official figures show.
A total of 213 militants were killed in 2017, 150 in 2016 and 108 in 2015.
While 142 militants were eliminated in anti-militancy operations till August 31, the rest were killed in the remaining four months.
An official told IANS that August witnessed the killing of 25 militants – the highest in a single month in 2018.
Also, 105 militants were arrested and 11 surrendered in 2018. The number arrested in 2017 was 97, 79 in 2016 and 67 in 2015.
Government forces also secured surrendering a higher surrender of militants in 2018, which was almost six times more compared to 2017. Only two militants surrendered in 2017 against one in 2016. No militant surrendered in 2015.
The data further revealed that the number of violent incidents were also at a peak during 2018 – almost one-and-half times more than 279 incidents in 2017. A total of 223 violent incidents were registered in 2016 and 143 in 2015.
The security forces also seized 153 AK rifles in 2018 — a dip from 213 in 2017, data accessed by IANS revealed. The number was 178 in 2016 and 177 in 2015.
An official deployed in internal security in Jammu and Kashmir said AK-47 assault rifles were the preferred weapon of militants.
The official, who did not want to be named, said that over 300 militants, including foreigners, were still active in the Kashmir Valley, especially in south Kashmir, which is the epicentre of militancy for over three years now.
“And these militants have been continuously attempting to radicalize youngsters in the Valley to take up arms and to shed fear of getting killed,” said the official.
“Militants were known to monitor activities of youngsters on social media – Facebook and Twitter — who are inclined to militant activities and hardcore religious activities,” the official added.

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Mehbooba among ‘strongest’ CMs of JK: Beg

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Srinagar, Jan 20: Senior Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehboob Beg on Sunday hailed party president Mehbooba Mufti as one of the most consistent and strongest chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir.
Beg, in a statement, said no matter if she is in the government or in the opposition she remained “steadfast”.
“Her politics and conviction finds basis in her ‘pro-people belief’, how she handled the Kathua rape case is a case in-point,” the statement said.
He said that the PDP president resisted the “sinister attempt to disturb and dislodge the tribal community and ensured no politics was played on this issue.”
Beg said: “Mehbooba’s stand was made crystal clear to the all-powerful central government as well, the Home Minister offered unconditional talks, the cases against protestors were withdrawn, the unilateral ceasefire was announced, how can we not appreciate her persisting with pro-people policies and made the BJP agree to matters that were politically inconvenient to them.”
“She took stands very well realizing that she did not have the numbers to dictate terms to the BJP, yet she persisted and since the BJP did not have the intentions to fulfill the terms agreed upon, they had to pull-out,” he said.
He claimed in the statement that the BJP had entered into this coalition by signing on dotted lines, the Agenda of Alliance was a carefully drafted ‘pro-people’ document.
Beg said “it appears that the BJP had no intention to fulfill what they had committed to do, one cannot do much about if somebody intends to cheat and deceive you.”
“We have had people waste historical opportunities. 1996 was a historic opportunity, the government of the day had overwhelming numbers, but did that government dare to take ‘pro-people’ stands? Let history be the judge on that,” he added.

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