The investigation into the alleged murder of a juvenile in a Matunga shelter home has revealed that among the 12 accused, at least three are over the age of 18 but have been staying in the same remand home. The prime accused is a 35-year-old man, S G Pakhare, recently convicted in Buldhana district for a crime he committed when he was 16.
Nick-named ‘mamu’, the prime accused was sentenced to two years’ of correction by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) in the same remand home.
Amir Khan, a 17-year-old Powai resident, who was allegedly assaulted by fellow inmates at the David Sassoon Children’s Home at Matunga on May 17, succumbed to his injuries on Thursday.
Khan was arrested in a case of theft in Powai in April.
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On Friday, his family was dissatisfied with the police probe and refused to accept the body for the last rites. His father Jameel Khan said, “How can we bury him without any justice? Amir had red marks on his back and limbs when he returned home on May 20 after his release. In his statement to the police, he told them of all the wrong things they did to him.”
The photos clicked by a relative of Amir after his release from the remand home show belt marks on his shoulder, arms and front. His hips had been badly bruised. The boy’s father said, “We think police are trying to cover up the incident. They still haven’t given us the post-mortem report.”
Shivaji Park police, investigating the case, registered an FIR against 12 inmates.
“The accused have been charged with murder, voluntarily causing grievous injury by dangerous weapons and rioting,” said Mahesh Patil, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone V.
Additional Commissioner of Police, Central region, Pratap Dighavkar, said the JJB has granted them permission to question all the accused.
“The inquiries will be conducted in the presence of a probation officer. We have notified the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),” he said.
When asked about the role of the warden of the shelter home, Dighavkar said, “It is a fact-finding mission. If any irregularities regarding any officials surface, we will bring it to the notice of the concerned body. We are covering all angles and have taken note of all allegations by the family.”
The Maharashtra Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) Friday took a suo motu decision to intervene in the case and demanded a preliminary investigation report from the police.
A N Tripathi, MSCPCR secretary, told The Indian Express, “The death of the boy is a serious matter. The Commission will also investigate the matter.”
The autopsy was conducted at the state-run JJ hospital on Thursday night. Dr T P Lahane, dean at the hospital, said, “The cause of death was multiple injuries all over the body.”
“The post-mortem does not indicate sexual assault. The exact cause of death has been reserved. According to statements of inmates, three inmates planned to escape while Amir was caught, the other two are still at large,” DCP Patil added.