Shadows in cages
In My God is a Juvenile Delinquent, author and documentary filmmaker Ruzbeh N Bharucha examines the plight of incarcerated children in India their personal stories, the inability to locate justice, the loss of their childhood. As the tone of Bharuchas responses to JAI ARJUN SINGHs questions shows, he feels very strongly about the subject.
How did your interest
in the subject of juvenile delinquents begin?
I wanted to learn more about the lives of those children: are they really on the wrong path, and if they are, what made them gravitate towards crime and how we as society treated and handled them. I was sure we were responsible for screwing their psyche. I wasnt wrong.
How did you begin
So, twice a week, I would spend time with these children in a cell that resembled a cage; slowly, they opened their hearts to us and after every meeting I would go home and write down our conversations.
What are the major
issues when it comes to the detention of young children in jails? How fair and transparent
is the justice system towards them?
The major issues regarding juvenile delinquents are many.
First, we keep them in holes called observation homes. These are really detention homes, prisons for children. The only bloody observation that goes on is ruining their childhood. Thus kids are kept in these so-called homes for years, being taught nothing, and they begin to rot and when they come out they are frustrated and bitter with society.
Second, the police officials have a quota to fulfill. Thus, kids are often booked for no fault. I have met a number of kids who were seething with anger and frustration, as they had been living an honest life but were booked because of a mistake they had committed a long time earlier. These kids are kept in prisons for adults. They are sodomised and victimised. You really think they are going to walk the straight path?
Third, often the rich kids get bail as their parents can afford it. Thus they can get away with anything and everything. If you are poor you are screwed and if you are rich you will have a way out.
Do you focus on the
emotional and psychological issues or the legal issues?
What steps will
improve the lot of young children in prisons?
Also, the age limit of kids should be 18 and not 14.
How many children did
you meet? Were there any incidents that had a particularly strong impact on you?
Do you plan to make a
film about juvenile delinquents?