Once, they used to be rebels without a cause. Now, perhaps, they take to crime for the same reason ' or lack of it.
According to a recent survey, there is a sharp rise in crime among the juvenile in the past two years, and the majority of these delinquents belong to upper-middle-class families.
They have been found guilty of committing a range of crimes ' from rape and murder to drug-related offences that invite the application of provisions of the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
The rate of juvenile crime in the city is far higher than that recorded in the rural areas. According to an official spokesman, 80 per cent of the total juvenile crime is being committed in Calcutta and its suburban areas.
According to official reports, while criminals from the poor strata are found guilty of committing petty crimes, those accused of rape and murder go to school and are from well-to-do families.
'This is an interesting point I have noticed during my year-long tenure as judge of the juvenile justice court in Salt Lake. Eighty per cent of the 1,000 cases I handled last year fall under the rape, murder and NDPS Act and all the crimes were committed by school-goers,' said outgoing juvenile justice judge Durga Khaitan Das.
Das said the trials of some of the accused have already been completed, and in all the cases, they have been convicted by the court. Referring to two separate cases in the Tiljala area, Das said in both, the minors were found guilty of raping their neighbours. They have been detained in safe custody for 12 years.
As far as juvenile crimes are concerned, the most crime-prone areas of the city are Sealdah and places adjacent to Bidhannagar railway stations, Mullickbazar, Kidderpore, Watgunge, Tiljala and New Market.
In the city, juveniles are involved in organised crime, often aided and abetted by adults. 'Prince was only 14 when he was involved in a murder committed in an area under Maniktala police station. Recently, he was convicted of the crime he had committed at the instigation of the adult accused,' an officer of the juvenile court said.
Gitanath Ganguli, advocate and executive chairman of Legal Aid Services, West Bengal, accused TV channels of pushing minors to crime.
'Teleserials are unthinkable without scenes of drinking and drug-taking, rape and murder. So, juveniles are bound to jump to the conclusion that such crime is part of everyday life,' Ganguli said.
State law minister Nisith Adhikari said he had definite information of a spurt in juvenile crime. 'Many of us are disturbed' Let us hope the issue will be addressed by the juvenile court in Salt Lake,' he commented.