New Delhi: The Delhi gangrape-murder case has brought the focus back on juvenile crimes and stirred a debate on whether the age for juveniles should be lowered. Critics say its the intent of crimes in heinous cases that should be examined instead of the age of the accused.
The alleged brutality of the juvenile accused in the Delhi gangrape case has shaken the country, but if the police are to be believed then the Delhi gangrape is only symptomatic of the rising juvenile crime graph.
20-year-old Sanju is on the Delhi police's most dreaded criminal list. Sanju was arrested for a spate of robberies in South Delhi in 2009, he was 17 then. Police records claim his gang of mostly juvenile offenders were involved in close to 200 cases. A stint at the juvenile reformation home over, he continues to be on the wrong side of law.
Former Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta said, "He even said on camera when arrested for the first time that he would come out and continue to commit crimes. He burnt the houses down after robbing them."
The national crime records bureau figures too paint a worrying picture. In 2011, close to 34,000 criminals apprehended were juvenile. That's a 10 per cent jump from 2010 with a startling 64 per cent of juveniles in the 16 to 18 age group. Shockingly, 11,000 of these minors were apprehended for rape with Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra reporting the maximum numbers.
On January 6, when protests in the Delhi gangrape case were still on, another young girl in Delhi was raped by a juvenile and his 19-year-old friend.
Police say criminal gangs are now using juveniles for auto-lifting, chain-snatching and even robbery. But with the juvenile justice act making it illegal to even maintain the records of juvenile delinquents, police say they are helpless.