[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Oct 15: Three teenagers were rescued by the Capital unit police late night on 11 October from Naharlagun and handed over to the Itanagar unit Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
The teenagers, all girls, were returning from a bar in Naharlagun and were on their way to a hotel, reportedly in an inebriated condition when the police found them on the highway.
While one of the girls was returned to her guardians in Seppa on 13 October, two of them remain in a short stay home in Naharlagun.
The 12-year-old school girl had left her home without informing anyone, following which her family lodged a missing report with the Seppa unit police on 22 September.
The other two girls, aged 15 and 17, were working as part timers in a hotel in Naharlagun, said the Child Line team and CWC in Itanagar.
Their guardians are yet to be traced.
One of the girls is a school dropout and an orphan.
Reportedly, the trio had gone to a bar where there was a DJ night with free entry for girls.
They said that they came to know about the free entry to the DJ night via social media.
According to their statements, no one asked for their proof of age before entering the bar.
When asked whether there are policies for refusing entry to teenagers to bars, Arunachal Pradesh Hotel Association president Tagru Punung said that there are strict orders for all bars not to allow under-aged children into bars.
He, however, said that many DJ nights are organized in bars which are not registered or regulated, and therefore, it is difficult to keep a tab on who gains entry to these events.
Itanagar CWC chairperson Kani Nada Maling has expressed concern at the growing number of young people left unattended by parents and guardians who find their way to bars and DJ nights.
The onus is on the bar owners to ensure that teenagers are not allowed in these bars, she said.
Before allowing entry to any place where liquor is served, it is absolutely mandatory that age be ascertained, she said.
“We are overwhelmed by the number of cases of relating to young people and missing children,” Kani said as she requested the parents and guardians not to leave their children unattended.
It is the responsibility of each one of us to secure the safety of our young people, she added, citing cases where young girls have been sexually assaulted in DJ nights where liquor flowed free.
One of the bar owners admitted that a lot of young people, mostly girls come to the bar, usually accompanied by older men.
Most of the time we are told that they are nieces or cousins so we allow them into the bar, he said.
We don’t want to pick a fight so we serve everybody, he said, when asked if liquor was served to the young people.
Capital Superintendent of Police M Harsha Vardhan said that a lot needs to be done to regulate the functioning of the bars in collaboration with the Excise department.
The police have already sealed a bar for opening late night, he informed.
One of the magistrates on duty said that administration and police have been checking bars, hotels and other open places to control alcohol-driven violence and underage drinking.
The Capital administration had restricted the timing of the bars to 10.30 PM following spats of accidents and violence a year ago.
When parents allow teenagers to drink, there is not much we can do, the magistrate said.
Many bars have been raided and sealed by the administration. However, the DJ nights crop up everywhere, usually on weekends, making it difficult for the police and administration, the magistrate said.
The CWC says that it is struggling to cope with the sheer number of young people rescued from unregulated DJ nights and bars.
Chairperson Kani says that many have also reported physical abuse.
The state police department currently does not have a dedicated juvenile or child unit as mandated under the Indian Law and the state is yet to form a separate commission for children’s welfare.
[ Tongam Rina ]