You're a Thief ! - Part One

Karuna Dayal
Posted May 11, 2017 from India

Back in the summer of 2009, I was appointed as a Counsellor by the Juvenile Justice Board on the request of a prominent child rights Advocate and an ex-colleague now, to rebound the lives of 4 very young girls held for petty offences under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000. After meeting the officials at a Government Observation Home where the four girls were staying, I submitted my first observation report to the Principal Magistrate regarding all my observations during the visit.As a result of this, I was appointed as the Counsellor for all Children in Conflict with Law at the Observation Home for Girls through a new order passed by the Principal Magistrate.

As a fresher in this satisfying yet very challenging job of counselling these children, I was not aware of the new awakening. I had to feel a connection with the young girl before things were to change. I was told by my colleague rather well to take care of what emotions I see coming from young Reshma (name changed). She was very intelligent, beautiful, mysterious, extremely manipulative, bold and to my amazement done it all at the age of 13.

One of the youngest girls amongst the responsibility of the other 4. Reshma was residing at the OHG (Observation Home for Girls). Her antecedent in delinquency dated back to the occasion a couple of months back when her elder brother took her along with another cousin to show his in-laws house, but mid-way decided to change the plan and instead took them along to attend a wedding of some stranger.

Reshma was completely oblivious to the change of plan. She was, however, explained in advance about getting a bag from inside a room where the marriage ceremony was taking place. She was asked by her brother and cousin to act as if she was one of the family members from the bride’s side. She, then, at an appropriate time was asked to take the luggage carrying the valuables along with her and leave the place immediately. Her brother and cousin then took away some of the valuables from the bag after breaking the lock. Some of the cash and jewellery was given to Reshma to be kept at their home in a safe place.

Thereafter, as the incident unfolded itself the police was informed by the robbed family about the theft and the pictures of Reshma were matched and recognized from the wedding day by some complainants. She was then apprehended, whereupon she told the police that she was directed by her brother to commit the whole act. Surprising me with each of her expressions and conversation skills, Reshma came across as a very quiet and introvert girl but I knew her personality would soon change with time. And she would definitely be different the next time I visit her........

Picture Courtesy: Maggie Cipriano, Google Images

Karuna Dayal currently works as a Program Manager focusing on right to education, gender equality and women and child rights issues with the Multiple Action Research Group (MARG), a national level NGO working on Legal Empowerment of marginalised communities in India. MARG believes that a good way to ensure justice is to legally empower people to demand it. Legal empowerment equips people to understand their rights, secure their enforcement and pursue remedies when these rights are violated.

Karuna has previously served as a Policy Fellow at CARE USA with their Gender and Empowerment Team as an EGLI Atlas Corps Fellow at Washington D.C. She has curated for the Twitter accounts of Sayfty and Safecity. She has worked on a wide range of Human Rights issues specifically related to violence against women, children and marginalised communities, both at grassroots and strategy formulation levels, encompassing project management & implementation, advocacy, strategy and development. She is a strong advocate for social change and how we can use innovation and technology to leverage its processes.

Follow her on Twitter @karunadayal and on Instagram @karunadayal

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 4

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Tamarack Verrall
May 12, 2017
May 12, 2017

Hello Karuna,

I read with much interest your description of how this young girl was tricked into stealing by an older brother. I had the opportunity for 10 years to listen to the stories of federally sentenced women here in Canada and wish everyone could understand the complexities of how they ended up in jail. I will watch for Part 2. Thanks for helping demystify "women in conflict with the law".

In sisterhood,


Karuna Dayal
May 15, 2017
May 15, 2017

Thank you so much Tam for this encouraging message! 



May 15, 2017
May 15, 2017

Hi Karuna,

Your story is very well written and I hope you can continue to help the Children in Conflict with Law. It's encouraging to see people who actually believe these young women's stories and do not just assume that they've knowingly committed a crime. I look forward to reading more of your stories :)

Warm regards,


Lisa Anderson
May 17, 2017
May 17, 2017

Dear Karuna,

This is such an important topic I hadn't yet thought about! There are, indeed, such complexities to these stories. Thank you so much for sharing. 

Warm regards,