The Mehsana district administration has directed judicial inquiry into the death of an 18-year-old boy who was in the custody of Mehsana Observation Home for juveniles on Thursday morning, after the victim’s parents alleged torture by the management.
According to police, the boy (name withheld) who had escaped the Observation Home in Mehsana on February 3 along with eight other inmates, was caught by Ahmedabad police on Wednesday evening and handed over again to the Observation Home.
He was last seen by police around 10 pm on Wednesday and was announced dead by 3 am next morning.
“As soon as we came to know about the incident, we asked the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) for an inquest. I have also written to the district judge for a judicial inquiry to ascertain under what circumstances the boy died. Police are also probing the matter and the law will take its own course,” said HK Patel, District Collector of Mehsana.
The state-run Observation Home comes directly under the jurisdiction of Patel.
Police said the boy was a resident of Naroda in Ahmedabad and he was recently held by Naroda police station in a case of mobile theft and assault.
The victim, who turned 18 a month ago, was a juvenile at that time and was sent to Mehsana Observation Home on December 2, 2019, as per an order by the District Magistrate. On February 3 this year, he escaped from the Observation Home along with eight other inmates, by locking up the security guards and caretakers in a room at the centre.
“The boy was held in Naroda of Ahmedabad on Wednesday evening and around 10 pm, he was handed over to the Observation Home of Mehsana, which gave them an undertaking that the boy was in perfect health. Then around 3 am, the Observation Home gives a call to the police that the boy is being taken to the hospital as his condition is not well. The boy was then declared dead by a team of doctors at the civil hospital.
We have sent the body for postmortem and a first information report will be lodged as per its findings. Prima facie, it appears that something happened to the boy between 10 pm and 3 am on Wednesday and Thursday, when he was in Observation Home custody,” said Nilesh Jajadia, Superintendent of Police, Mehsana.
The boy’s father, who met him on Wednesday evening, claimed that he was in perfect health in the custody of Naroda police. He further claimed that his son had shown reluctance to go back to the Observation Home in Mehsana stating that “he might be punished for his escape act”.
“We got a call around 7 pm saying that our son has been held at Naroda police station and I must come to check his well-being before he is sent to Mehsana. I reached the station and spoke to him, where he appeared perfectly fine. He also told me that he was being tortured at the Observation Home in Mehsana and showed reluctance. Around 2.30 am, we got a call from the Observation Home that my son had died due to breathlessness. When I reached in the morning and saw the body, we saw torture marks all over it,” said the boy’s father who is a daily wage earner in Ahmedabad.
According to HB Vaghela, in-charge of Naroda police station, the boy was earlier lodged at Shahpur Observation Home in Ahmedabad. “The boy had another murder case lodged against him at Sardarnagar police station and he was locked up in Shahpur Observation Home. Then we charged him in another old case of mobile loot and assault when the judge transferred him to Mehsana Observation Home in December 2019. When we held him again after his escape from the Observation Home, he was in perfect shape,” said Vaghela.
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