Boys run riot at north Delhi juvenile home

Chetan Chauhan

New Delhi, Aug. 9 -- Inmates of a juvenile home ran riot in north Delhi on Thursday morning after the authorities confiscated mobile phones and iron rods found in some of their rooms.

The juvenile home at Majnu ka Tila is home to boys in the 16-18 year age group and is segregated from other minors involved in crime. This is where the juvenile accused in the December 16 Delhi gang rape case is lodged.

The incident comes at a time when a debate rages on whether this group should be treated on a par with adult criminals or whether there should be a special dispensation to deal with them. "There should be some review of the law regarding children in conflict with law in the 16-18 age group," said Raj Mangal Prasad of NGO Pratidhi.

Trouble in the juvenile home started when the staff suspected that three new inmates were planning to escape. A search in their rooms yielded some prohibited items such as phones and iron rods.

"Soon, the boys mobilised others and entered the main office," an official said. After an altercation with the staff, they started damaging the office and burnt files. Within minutes, the boys took control of the juvenile home.

They had reached the gate but the police arrived there in time to prevent them from escaping. "The boys were pacified by late in the afternoon," a Delhi government official said.

This is not the first incident of indiscipline in the juvenile home, sources said. A few days ago, a cook was beaten up when he refused to make a special meal demanded by some boys and insisted on going by the official food menu.

"The boys know we can't use force against them because of provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act," an official said.

Sindhu Pillai, DCP (north), said they had received a call regarding some ruckus being created by inmates inside the juvenile observation home. Several police personnel were sent to control the situation and to ensure that nobody escapes.

Police learnt the inmates were pelting stones on passersby and on nearby houses. They were setting blankets on fire and were not allowing fire tenders to enter the premises.

Rajiv Kale, secretary women and child development department, which runs the home, was not available for comments.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.