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Cops face ‘minor’ headache: no photo of 20 juvenile accused on the run

Twenty of the 36 inmates of a juvenile home in Mukherjee Nagar,who had broken out of confinement after overpowering unarmed guards,are still at large.

Written by Sahim Salim | New Delhi |
June 2, 2009 12:59:19 am

Twenty of the 36 inmates of a juvenile home in Mukherjee Nagar,who had broken out of confinement after overpowering unarmed guards,are still at large.

Even as 16 children returned to the Observation Home after they failed to survive in the outside world,investigation officers said they are facing an unusual problem in tracing the 20 absconding — there are no photographs of any of the children in official records.

“Under the rules,we are not allowed to keep photographs of underaged accused. All we can do now is alert respective police stations from where they were arrested. We have even alerted police departments of the states to which these accused belong. But without a photograph,it will be difficult to scout for them,” said a senior police official.

The 20 runaway juveniles include a few rape accused and one in for murder. Giving details,the officer said two days prior to the prison break,a group of inmates had gone on a hunger strike after jail authorities told them their relatives and friends could not bring them food from outside. The step was taken after authorities came to know that drugs were being smuggled in.

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“A majority of them took drugs. It is a menace. A group of inmates brought it to the notice of the authorities,who then stopped all outside food,” an officer explained. Those on hunger strike had even asked other inmates to refrain from eating at the in-house canteen. However,on May 21,some inmates arrived at the canteen for food. This led to a conflict between protesting inmates — armed with cricket stumps,fan blades,tree branches and iron rods — and the group which had gone for lunch.

As the fight continued,36 children seized the opportunity to scale the gates of the Home,even as 30 unarmed guards,posted from the Delhi Police Home Guards,looked on.

While two inmates returned to the Home the same evening,more children came back over the next few days,bringing the total to 16. It was mainly fear that brought the children back to the Home,officials said.

One of the accused,who was placed in confinement as a minor but is now over 18 years of age,told police that he was afraid he would be tried for prison-break as a major,thereby increasing his term and that too in Tihar Jail.

Senior police officials said there is an urgent need to step up security at this Home.

“The juveniles here are not innocent criminals. They are murderers,dacoits and rapists. To put them in confinement,secured by merely 30 unarmed guards,is not practical,” a police official said.

11 beggars flee from confinement
Meanwhile,in another confinement break,11 beggars fled from the government-run Beggars Confinement in Mukherjee Nagar on Sunday night.

Police officials said 11 beggars overpowered the lone guard on duty on Sunday night and escaped. The guard on duty was found under the influence of liquor and the police is investigating whether the absconding beggars planned to get him drunk.

Beggars Confinement houses men caught and tried for begging,till they are rehabilitated. The enclosure also has prisons inside,though the security here is minimal.

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