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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

A tale of two 17-year-olds – Juvenile Secularism in Action

He is just a minor as per the law of the land and hence, whatever crime he is alleged to have committed needs to be handled under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act. The Act also says that a minor’s identity needs to be protected and no  media publication shall disclose information that may lead to his identification.

But all of these norms have been flouted in the case of the boy who apparently made an objectionable Facebook post that allegedly triggered the Baduria/Basirhat riots. The 17-year-old is languishing in prison for 2 weeks now – apart from Hindu Samhati, there has been no human rights groups or NGO protesting & lobbying on his behalf – while both mainstream and digital media are awash with his name and identity. The poor child, from a broken family, who reportedly reacted emotionally after some Muslim neighbors celebrated Bharat’s loss in a cricket match against Pakistan, has been openly named and labelled as a ‘Hindutva activist’ by shrill propaganda websites like The Wire.

The Islamist mob did not even spare the boy’s house and it was burnt to cinders.

The hypocrisy of secular politicians who bleat non-stop about ‘threat to freedom of expression under Modi’ is plain for all to see, and twitter has left them with no place to hide –

The virtual lynching of this 17-year-old from Basirhat, and the very real threat of a physical lynching, stands in stark contrast to the kid-glove treatment of the 17-year-old Muslim minor involved in the brutal 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape. Lets look at some of the salient points of that case –

  • 6 men were arrested for the brutal gang-rape & insertion of rod in private parts and subsequent death of 23-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh. A month later, one of those arrested was ruled to be a minor by the Juvenile Justice Board which accepted as authentic a school certificate showing his age as 17 years and six months; a request by police and Jyoti’s family to run a bone ossification test on the suspect to determine his age was overruled.
  • This ‘teenager’ was the one who had lured Jyoti and her friend to board the bus where the crime took place. Police said the ‘teen’ offender was the most depraved, raping the student twice, once when she was unconscious.
  • The ‘teen’ rapist was sentenced to serve 3 years in a juvenile reform home, where he was trained in cooking, painting and tailoring. His counsellor at the rehabilitation home said that he hadn’t observed any “positive change” in him and that he remained remorseless from the beginning to the end of his term in the home.
  • While he was in the juvenile home, he was kept together with a convicted minor of the 2011 Delhi High Court blasts – intelligence officers and juvenile home staff believe that this led to his indoctrination and fear he could take the terrorism route.
  • After his release on December 20 2015, the rapist was kept with an NGO which rehabilitated him under a new identity as a cook at a roadside eatery down south.
Left: Nirbhaya rapist juvenile with identity covered; Right: Identity revealed of Minor accused of ‘objectionable’ FB post (face blacked out by OpIndia.com)

Jail in violation of juvenile law, identity revealed, house burnt down, open death threats, totally ignored by civil society – this is what the Basirhat minor, who happens to be a Hindu, is facing for a Facebook post.

Treatment as per juvenile law, attempts to reform, freedom to hobnob with terrorists, full rehabilitation with job and new secret identity – this is what the convicted ‘minor’, who happens to be a Muslim, got for the brutal rape and murder of Jyoti Singh.

This should clear up all doubts about how secularism works in Bharat.

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