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Police stations set to turn child-friendly

The state government’s attempt to sensitise the men in uniform about ways to handle juvenile crime has received a thrust with two police stations of Ranchi being marked as “child-friendly police stations”.

Jagannathpur police station near the state Assembly at HEC Township and Gonda police station near the chief minister’s residence on Kanke Road will only handle child-related cases. The idea is to change the way juveniles and children who are in conflict with law are handled at present. The officers posted at these two police stations will take special care while dealing with the under-aged accused.

Earlier in May, the state had decided to provide special training to policemen on handling sensitive cases involving juvenile victims of trafficking as a precursor to a move to set up special juvenile police units in 200 police stations across the state.

Senior superintendent police, Ranchi, Saket Kumar Singh has been asked to ready a separate chamber for special juvenile protection officer and make arrangement for necessary furniture at Jagannathpur and Gonda police stations. Deputy inspector-general (DIG) of South Chotanagpur range Sampat Meena informed this, saying “it would hardly take 15 days for the child-friendly police stations to become functional”.

Asked about the facilities that would be available, Meena said: “There will be a sign board bearing the name child friendly police stations. There will also be posters providing information about juvenile justice and telephone numbers of district child welfare officer, who will be inducted at the police station.”

The DIG also said officers at these special police stations would handle the children in a more humane manner as mandated by the juvenile justice system. “Policemen will be properly trained and sensitised,” she added.

Asked whether such police stations had been planned in the districts of Gumla, Lohardaga, Simdega and Khunti, which fall under the South Chotanagpur range, Meena said efforts were on for the same. “A direction has been issued to designate town police station as Child Friendly Police Station in Gumla, Lohardaga, Simdega and Khunti,” Meena said.

At present, the state does not have any police station exclusively meant for children. Juveniles, mostly caught in theft cases, are handled by regular officers, who are not well aware of the juvenile act.

Member of Juvenile Justice Board and state co-ordinator of Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children (ATSEC), Sanjay Mishra, welcomed the decision. “Establishment of such police stations will benefit the children against whom four to five cases of petty offences are registered every day across the state. Children in conflict with law will get proper counselling at these police stations, which will increase their chances of getting reformed,” he said.

But a police officer begged to differ. “Once such a facility is available, children suffering from conduct disorder will not be afraid of police and will commit more crimes,” the officer said, requesting anonymity.

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