The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Tortured’ teens flee state-run shelter

Barasat, Nov. 1: It was a Bollywood potboiler enacted at the state-run Kishalaya home for destitute children last night.

Six minor boys — aged between 14 and 16 — escaped from the home here on the city’s northern fringes amid allegations that they were being “tortured” regularly.

The inmates who escaped are Sekh Nasir, 16, Mohammad Sahid, 16, Salamuddin, 15, Ajoy Das, 14, Gore Das, 15, and Mohammad Mustaque, 14. None of the boys have any criminal record.

After dinner last night, the boys were off to their dormitory on the first floor of ward four. Then they stealthily got up and left the room around 11.30 pm when everyone else was asleep. The boys managed to open the iron bolts of the window and climbed down to the ground floor by a pipe.

Once they were on the home’s compound, they used a nearly 20-feet-long rope — made out of several mosquito nets — and tied it to some tree branches beside the Vidyasagar stadium, located just a few yards from the home. The boys climbed the rope in the murky darkness and were soon outside the home premises.

Although it is not known for sure why they escaped, there are allegations that the boys were being regularly tortured by the home authorities.

“The boys must have planned their escape from the home at least over the past few days. This is evident from the manner in which they collected several mosquito nets to prepare a long rope,” said a home official.

Kishalaya home superintendent Bhaskar Chakraborty admitted this, but refused further comment on the incident.

He confirmed that a complaint had been lodged with the Barasat police station.

A source in the home, requesting anonymity, however, admitted that the boys were “tortured”.

Bishal Sarkar, a local Congress leader, alleged that the inmates escaped from the home out of fear.

“A few days ago, the inmates were severely down with enteric diseases and these boys had informed the press about the incident. Since then, the boys were subjected to torture by the authorities,” he alleged.

Hiranmoy Saha, president of the Child Welfare Committee, a wing of the social welfare department, said: “A showcause notice has been served on the home superintendent. We are investigating why the boys escaped and whether they were being tortured.”

Supriyo Gupta, joint secretary in the social welfare department, said: “We admit that the matter is serious and we are looking into all possible angles.”

A demonstration was held by the district Congress near the home today to protest the alleged torture of the inmates by the home authorities.

A total of 210 destitute boys live in Kishalaya home. The boys — without shelter and family — are brought from various districts across Bengal by the police.

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