ICPS proves a damp squib in J&K due to official apathy

The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), a centrally sponsored scheme aimed at building a protective environment for children, is proving a damp squib in Jammu and Kashmir due to the apathy of babus at the helm of affairs.

Sources told DH that from backdoor appointments to attaching the staff recruited for rural areas and attached in Srinagar, the Mission Director ICPS, G A Sofi is violating the norms brazenly. “Sofi, who was removed as MD ICPS by then PDP-BJP government in 2017, managed his posting back after the governor’s rule in the state. Since then he has made recruitment in the prestigious scheme in violation of rules,” they revealed.

Sources said several officials of the ICPS from various districts of Kashmir have been attached to Mission Directorate Srinagar, affecting the functioning of the Scheme including that of Justice Juvenile Boards (JBBs) and Child Welfare Committees (CWCs).

“The officials of the ICPS including JJBs, CWCs and district child protection units (DCPUs) of far-flung districts of Kashmir have since last year been attached to the Directorate office in Srinagar, affecting the functioning of the ICPS in the districts,” they added.

Although the flagship child protection scheme is operational in a majority of other States since its launch in 2009, in J&K it failed to reap its benefit owing to the “lackadaisical approach” and “inefficiency” of the government officials till 2017.

The ‘lethargic’ approach on part of the State government in redressing the concerns raised by Union Ministry for Women and Child Development was delaying its implementation. “Finally, when some progress was made in making the scheme functional, the higher-ups in the Department are ruining this important scheme for their personal benefits,” an official of ICPS, wishing anonymity said.

According to the guidelines of the scheme, J&K and North Eastern States have 90:10 Centre-state ratio for funding of all components, while other States have 75: 25 for the structural components. Other states would get 35: 65 Centre-State ratio for the regulatory bodies provided by Central Juvenile Justice Act.

A child right activist said what is disheartening about Kashmir is children and young people are on a spree of self-harming practices which are driven by various forces and irrespective of political aspirations. “Directly or indirectly if the children are part of hostilities, which is what we see on the ground, it does not speak good of us as a society. The ICPS was meant to take care of these issues,” he said.

“Had the scheme been implemented here properly, the children, victims of different kinds of abuses would have easily got justice. This scheme addresses the issue of child protection at every level and it is unfortunate it has not been implemented properly,” he added.

When contacted, MD ICPS denied the allegations of backdoor recruitment. “We have hired the staff through an outsourcing agency. We had a shortage of staff which forced us to take this route,” he told DH.

Asked why the official from other districts have been attached in Srinagar in violation of the J&K Juvenile Justice Act, he said, “These people (officials) were attached in Srinagar before I took over. I have no role in it."

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