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First kid-friendly thana shut in capital

Jharkhand police, with Unicef, which promised to start a campaign to make 502 police and rail thanas child-friendly in 2014, has failed to operate even the first one successfully.

Child-friendly thanas are supposed to work on rights guidelines enshrined in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000.

Jharkhand’s first such police station debuted in Gonda near the chief minister’s official residence on Kanke Road on November 26, 2012.

It had enjoyed a hi-profile launch, with then additional director-general of police (crime investigation) Asha Sinha, inaugurating it at the behest of then deputy inspector general of South Chotanagpur Sampat Meena.

Bal Mitra Thana, as it was called, stopped functioning since August 2013 when its in-charge Sugar Kendulna was transferred to Jagannathpur police station.

Since then, the post is lying vacant.

The thana — where policemen, who are supposed to wear plainclothes and not handcuff children or put them behind bars — is defunct. Even its signboard has been taken off and kept inside a room.

When contacted, Gonda police station officer-in-charge (OC) K.K. Jha claimed Bal Mitra Thana would resume operations soon.

“A sub-inspector, Chitranjan Mishra, has been given its charge recently,” Jha said.

But another policeman, unwilling to be named, said this effort was both “casual and inadequate”.

“At least two constables, an assistant sub-inspector and a sub-inspector are required to properly run Bal Mitra Thana. A sub-inspector, also supposed to look after law and order in Gonda area, cannot run the child-friendly police station alone,” the officer said.

When contacted, state director-general of police (DGP) Rajeev Kumar said he had “recently joined and hence had little idea about what had happened in the past.”

Kumar, however, reiterated his promise that all the police stations in the state would be made child-friendly.

“A set of 21 indicators have been developed as self-assessment tool for all police stations. The OC of each thana will assess their progress against indicators and report the same to the respective superintendent of police, who heads the special juvenile police unit in each area, after a year,” Kumar said.

These 21 indicators are in line with norms under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and Supreme Court rulings, he added.

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