First toll-free helpline for child rights launched in Jammu

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Non-governmental organisation Voice for Rights has launched a toll-free helpline – 18001800304 – for victims of child rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported on Monday. Deepika Singh Rajawat, the chairperson of the NGO, said the helpline will cater to people in Jammu for the time being, though they plan to expand their network eventually. Through the helpline, the NGO plans to provide legal and other assistance to victims.

“Our country is growing economically, but human rights violations are hampering its progress. It is an important that NGOs come up with such projects,” state Social Welfare Minister Sajjad Gani Lone said at the inauguration of the helpline. “A wrong is a wrong…be it in Delhi, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir or any part of the world. I am very happy that NGOs come up with very stringent and unambiguous definition of wrongs.”

Kashmir has been on the boil since Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani was killed by security forces in July 2016. Since then, scores of civilians, mostly youth, have been detained by personnel during protests and clashes. The security forces have been accused to severe rights violations in the Valley. A large number of juveniles are believed to be in police custody, though they do not figure in official records.

“If the police think no one will produce a birth certificate, they mention the age as 18,” said advocate Wajid Haseeb. “We then plead in the High Court if we have a document [proof of date of birth] and the warrant is quashed.” The Valley has only one juvenile remand home.

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