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Sexual abuse of kids: GoI mulling death penalty for convicts

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Apr 20: Government is actively considering amending the penal law to introduce death penalty to those convicted of sexually abusing children up to 12 years of age, the Supreme Court was informed on Friday.
The assertion of the Centre assumes significance following the public outcry for award of death penalty to such sexual offenders, including the assaulters of an 8-year-old girl who was gang raped and killed at Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir recently.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, hearing a PIL relating to the brutal rape of an 8-month-old child allegedly by her 28-year-old cousin, was given a copy of a letter by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narasimha to apprise it that the Law Ministry was contemplating changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act.
The communication of a deputy secretary, addressed to the ASG, reads, “I am directed…to inform that the issues raised in the petition regarding amendment of provisions of the POCSO Act, 2012 so as to provide maximum punishment of death penalty for commission of offences of rape of children of 0-12 year of age group is under active consideration of the Ministry.
“The Ministry is sensitive to the plight of young children brutaly abused in the most horrific manner. The Ministry is proposing to amend the POCSO Act for introducing death penalty for the abuser in the cases of aggravated sexual assault against children.”
The ASG, however, had earlier opposed the submission of Alakh Alok Srivastava, who had filed the PIL in his personal capacity in the case, that sexual assaulters of children be sent to the gallows by saying that “death penalty is not the answer to everything”.
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, took note of the Centre’s stand and fixed the PIL for hearing on April 27.
Srivastava had approached the top court after the horrific incident of rape of an 8-month girl child allegedly by her 28-year-old cousin on January 28 in a locality near Netaji Subhash Place in north-west Delhi had come to light.
The girl child had developed health conditions and underwent emergency corrective surgeries. The PIL had sought reliefs like proper medical care of the victim at AIIMS and award of Rs 10 lakh as interim compensation.
The plea has also sought the provision of death penalty in such cases and framing of guidelines that investigation and trial of cases involving rape of children below 12 years of age under POSCO Act, should be completed in six months from the date of registration of the FIR.
The top court, which had said it cannot direct Parliament to amend law, however, had asked the Centre to give details of pending cases of sexual assault against children across the country for taking a “national view” with an aim to figuring out how such trials could be fast-tracked.
The Centre had informed the court that the victim girl has been provided the due medical care and an FIR has been registered leading to arrest of her cousin who had already confessed to the crime before the police.
The police had said the accused had confessed to raping the baby under the influence of liquor.
The girl’s parents used to go out for work leaving their daughter in the custody of their sister-in-law. Since it was a Sunday, their sister-in-law’s son was at home, the police had said, adding that when the accused saw that his mother was not around, he allegedly forced himself on the baby.
When the girl’s mother returned home, she saw blood stains on the victim’s clothes and informed her husband, they said, adding she was rushed to a hospital where it was found that she had been sexually assaulted.


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Lockdown fallout: Anxiety, depression cases surge in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Oct 15: Fifty-year-old Fatima (name changed) feels jitters when she recalls the night she saw an SOS from her younger brother flashing on the television news channel.

“Call me immediately,” flashed the message on the scroll of a TV channel. The world blackened out for Fatima when she read the message from her younger brother.

It was after four weeks post abrogation of state’s special status that she heard from her younger brother, who works in a private company in Middle East.

 

Crushed by apprehensions triggered by the sudden message on TV, Fatima developed frequent panic attacks, which landed her at the Government Psychiatric hospital, Rainawari.

 “My wife kept on saying that something bad has happened to him. Despite our reassurances, she was bogged down by negative thoughts which became the reason for the panic attacks,” lamented her husband.

Moreover, he was not able to contact his brother-in-law as there was no functional land-line in the neighborhood. “Going to DC office was out of question given the severe restrictions from our side at that time,” he said

 Similarly 45-year-old Tabassum (name changed) was hovered by the negative thoughts of her daughter’s bleak future which landed her in depression.

She hoped that her daughter will benefit from the 50 percent quota reserved for the female MBBS students.

After the abrogation of article 370, she apprehended that the Centre would do away with the quota, thus, crushing her daughter’s dreams of becoming a doctor.

 “She cried very easily. Her recurrent question would be: Will the government revoke the quota?” said her sister.

A senior consultant at the Psychiatric hospital termed the abrogation of Article 370 as “precipitating” and “perpetuating” factor to the conflict that is already 30 decades old.

“So many Kashmiris studying and working outside couldn’t contact their family members. Those living in Kashmir couldn’t contact their near and dear ones outside the valley, or for that matter inside the vale. This heightened the anxiety levels,” he said

The doctor noted that only 5-10 percent of patients reported at the hospital in August as the patient inflow was impeded by the lockdown.

“In the beginning phase of the communication lockdown, we couldn’t see many patients at the hospitals. They couldn’t reach here due to restrictions. Our essential services were also impacted,” he said.

The doctor asserted that the long terms effects of the ongoing crisis will be worse. “There will be more of depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and acute stress disorders,” he said.

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Omar sporting beard: Image shared on social media

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Oct 15: A day after the mobile services were resumed in the Kashmir valley, the first image of the National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah surfaced on social media.

Abdullah’s latest picture is doing rounds on Twitter and WhatsApp. The picture was reportedly taken when the NC delegation met him in Srinagar.

With a grey beard and short hair, Abdullah looks totally different than what he used to look prior to his detention.

 

The image is shared by various journalists.

Last month, reports surfaced that Omar had pronounced that he would not shave his beard till his release.

Reports also claimed that Abdullah spends time watching Hollywood movies and working out at the gym.

Along with Omar, his father Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were also put into house arrest after the Narendra Modi government scrapped the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by diluting the Article 370.

The vice-president of the NC is detained at the government guesthouse at Hari Niwas Palace in Srinagar, while PDP chief Mufti is placed under detention at a JKTDC-owned hut at Chashma Shahi.

Initially, both the leaders were lodged at Hari Niwas Palace.

On Monday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration resumed postpaid mobile services in the Valley.

The mobile services were shut down after the Centre’s decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370. However, prepaid and internet services will remain suspended for now. The Valley has around 66 lakh mobile users out of which 40 lakh use postpaid facilities.

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NIT Srinagar reopens

Agencies

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Srinagar, Oct 15: The National Institute of Technology (NIT) here reopened on Tuesday after being shut for two-and-a-half months.

The institution was closed in view of security concerns in the region post abrogation of Article 370 and the students who belonged to states other than Jammu and Kashmir were sent home.

“All the students were much tensed as the institution was closed for many days following the abrogation of the article 370. Now when it has finally re-opened we all are very excited and happy that we can continue our studies,” Praful, a student told ANI.

 

Mobile services were also restored in J&K on Monday after a span of over two months since the central government’s move to repeal Article 370 that accorded special status to the region.

The decision to restore mobile phone services came days after Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik announced the withdrawal of security advisory for tourists from October 10.

The administration had also said that tourists desirous of visiting the region will be provided with the necessary assistance and logistic support. (ANI)

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