Lucknow: Ninety one juvenile inmates escaped from the Meerut Reform Centre late Sunday, said police. The state government has suspended two police constables for dereliction of duty. The juveniles had scaled the high peripheral walls of the building and escaped late Sunday though the incident was discovered only Monday morning.

According to an AFP report, the juveniles escaped by tying bedsheets together and then scaling down the walls of the three-storey building, police said.

A total of 91 out of 135 inmates, including several convicted murderers, managed to flee the facility in Meerut overnight, although 45 have since been recaptured, the city’s superintendent of police Om Prakash said.

“They removed an iron grill from a window at the back of the building while police were guarding the front,” Prakash told AFP from Meerut in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. “This was done so professionally that no one got a whiff,” Prakash added.

Those still on the run include inmates convicted of crimes such as murder, rape, theft and banditry, Prakash added. All are aged under 18.

Police say the break-out was staged some time between 1:00am and 3:00am and the alarm was only raised when officers patrolling near the centre spotted some of the fugitives trying to flag down public transport.

Representational Image. Reuters

Prakash said that the local authorities were confident that they would recapture the others who had escaped. “Even earlier inmates from this facility have made several attempts to escape. Once in the past around 40 of them even managed to escape,” Prakash said.

Most of the escaped juveniles hail from Ghaziabad and Noida. Police teams have been sent to these two districts to trace the absconding inmates.

Police officials told IANS that the incident came to light when three-four youngsters were found loitering in the Nauchandi area and were detained for interrogation. When grilled they told of their escape from the juvenile home. Police personnel were immediately rushed to the centre in Surajkund area.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Om Prakash Singh said that they were on the look out for the rest of the escaped inmates. There are more than 31,000 inmates in juvenile reform homes in India according to the latest official statistics.

There is an ongoing debate about the treatment of juveniles charged with serious crimes like rape, murder and robbery. Some argue that they need to be treated the same as adult criminals and sent to adult prisons that have a much stricter security, while inmates at juvenile facilities usually sleep in dormitories rather than individual cells.

With inputs from AFP and IANS


Meerut: In mass breakout, 91 juveniles escape from reform centre