Gujarat: Three booked for death of boy at juvenile home in Mehsana

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The deceased, a native of Naroda in Ahmedabad, was brought to the observation home around 10 pm on Wednesday night by Naroda police. (Representational Image)

A day after an 18-year-old boy was found dead under mysterious circumstances in an observation home in Mehsana, police booked three persons, including the warden, for murder.

According to officials, the accused are identified as Vishnu Prajapati, the warden of Mehsana Zonal Observation Home-cum-place of safety, Akshay Chaudhary and Kanubhai Chaudhary, two staff at the centre. The observation home is state-run and comes under the jurisdiction of the district collector.

“Based on the complaint by the victim’s father, we have booked the three under Indian Penal Code sections 302 for murder and 114 for criminal conspiracy, along with sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (prevention of atrocities) act. We have not made any arrest yet,” said a senior police official in Mehsana.

The deceased, a native of Naroda in Ahmedabad, was brought to the observation home around 10 pm on Wednesday night by Naroda police. Then around 3 am, the staff at observation home informed the police and the boy’s parents that he was rushed to the civil hospital after he fell ill and was declared brought dead by doctors. However, next morning on Thursday, the boy’s family claimed that when they reached Mehsana from Naroda, they found several torture marks including branding on the lower portion of his body.

In the complaint written to the police, the boy’s father has mentioned, “When I came to the Mehsana civil hospital, I saw torture marks on my son’s body suggesting that he was beaten up. There were branding marks also on the lower portion of his body.” After the incident came to light, district collector H K Patel wrote to the district judge demanding a judicial inquiry into the matter and also initiated an inquest by sub-divisional magistrate.

According to police, the boy was first brought to the Mehsana observation home on December 2, 2019, by an order of a sessions judge in Ahmedabad, after he was charged with mobile phone theft and assault. The boy was a minor at the time he was charged in the case.

Then on February 3, this year, the boy fled the observation home along with eight other accomplices after locking the staff and security guards inside a room.

On Wednesday, Naroda police station team arrested the boy and as per procedure, sent him back to the Mehsana home by 10 pm on Wednesday. Before handing him over, Naroda police had as per procedure made the boy meet his father.

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 8 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,” said the father in his complaint.