No leniency for dangerous teen killers

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Ever since Nirbhaya, our nation has discussed this burning issue: Can teen killers be reformed? Or should they be tried as adults and get the punishment they deserve? These questions hit national headlines once again when a 16-year-old was arrested for the cold-blooded murder of a 7-year-old boy in a Delhi school.  Thankfully, the court has directed that the culprit be tried as an adult.

And let’s be realistic here. The killer is 16, not 10. He has a history of psychological issues, and had planned to poison the school. Sound familiar? The scores of school shootings in the US every year are a reminder to us what a disturbed kid is capable of.

And let’s remember that Nirbhaya’s most brutal attacker was a juvenile, but at the time our laws did not allow the government to try him as an adult. So he was free after just 3 years in juvenile detention. This kid who showed no remorse is working far away from his home state, in a dhaba, as a cook. Tomorrow he might be the courier boy who delivers your packages or might be hired as your security guard. And yeah, his employer has no idea of his background! Effectively, our laws have released an evil man with a lust for blood and violence into our midst.

There are other recent cases of teen killers. This is an incident which happened last year in Mumbai. Two 17-year-olds abducted a three-year-old, and strangled her to death. No judgment has been pronounced yet.

Sure, every one of these juvenile killers has the potential to change (if supported properly by society, and family), but that’s just in theory.  Do you really think that these killers had a loving family? In none of the above-mentioned cases was this so. And as for the resources for proper psychiatric care, this seems unlikely. And even with the best psychiatric care, there are no guarantees. Without a supportive family, the chances of reform reduce drastically.

Only if the crime is a spur of the moment crime, and if the teen has either killed in self-defense or has killed his abuser, then the courts can consider leniency. Remorse is important. Even if the murder was justified in some manner, a normal human being should feel pangs of remorse. He/She should have a conscience.

The 16-year-old killer from Ryan International school planned the murder in a cold-blooded manner, killed a kid for a trivial reason (to postpone his exams), showed no remorse when caught, and watched idly as the wrong man was nabbed for the crime. He seemed to have no concept of right or wrong, no regard for human life and suffering. There is no question of letting such kids into the world after just a few years of counseling. The risk to society is too high.

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