221 juvenile inmates flee reform centre, breaking the gate and breaching the wallsPolice have rearrested 197. Earlier a clash had ensued after suspicious death of an inmate.
In a rare incident, as many as 297 juvenile inmates sheltered at a juvenile centre in Sanothimi, Bhaktapur clashed with the police on Monday. Twenty security personnel, including Inspector Sanjiv Oli, and 15 juvenile inmates were injured in the incident, police said.
The injured are undergoing treatment at four hospitals in the Valley—Nagarik Hospital at Gatthaghar, Nepal Korea Friendship Hospital at Thimi, Bir Hospital at Kantipath and the Maharajgunj-based TU Teaching Hospital.
According to the District Police Range Bhaktapur, the inmates used weapons like khukuri, spears and sticks against Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel. Police said as many as 221 male inmates were on the run, breaching the walls and breaking the gate of the inmate centre run by UCEP (Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programmes) in Madhyapur Thimi Municipality-2. The female inmates didn’t flee.
Police said that by Monday evening, a total of 197 inmates had been arrested from different parts of the valley. The Kathmandu Valley Police Chief Senior Superintendent Dan Bahadur Karki said more than 60 juvenile inmates were detained from Kathmandu and have been kept in New Baneshwar Police Range.
However, police say the remaining 23 inmates are still on the run.
“This is a rare and unfortunate incident,” said Superintendent of Police Pradip KC, also the chief of Police Range Bhaktapur. He said both Nepal Police and Armed Police force have been deployed at all exit points of the Valley.
Meanwhile, to disperse the crowd, the police had fired three rounds without seeking permission, according to the Chief District Office and the Chief of Police Range.
“Those who were deployed there said they fired three rounds for their own safety,” KC said. “We are yet to investigate it.”
The incident occurred at around 2pm on Monday. Bhaktapur’s Chief District Officer Khagendra Prasad Rijal said the event was instigated after the relatives of a deceased inmate, Kamal Basnet, 18, protested outside the correction centre.
Basnet, who was originally from Manthali Municipality-3 of Ramechap district and had been suffering from fever, died at the centre on Sunday. He was rushed to the Nagarik Hospital after his condition worsened.
Agitating relatives claimed that he could have been saved with timely treatment.
The teenager had been serving his sentence at the correction centre after being convicted of rape.
After a confrontation with police, the inmates had chased police personnel, beating them with weapons and pushing them around 200 metres from the centre, right up to the SOS school in Sano Thimi, according to some locals.
“As they were juvenile inmates, police were not allowed to get in with weapons or in their dress. The inmates used sharp weapons…it seemed well-planned,” said CDO Rijal. It is learnt the inmates used weapons made from kitchen utensils and other construction materials.
According to the CDO office, the juvenile inmates who have been serving their sentences are in the age group of 14-26 years. It is learnt that the centre had been housing inmates beyond its capacity.
“The law permits inmates below 18 to stay at the centre when they commit a crime. They are held there until they have served out their punishment time,” said Rijal.
He said if only there was a provision to take inmates to prison once they crossed 18 years of age, this incident would not have happened.
Over the past few years, cases of juvenile delinquencies in the country have been increasing at an alarming rate.
Juvenile delinquency is a criminal act or offences committed by young people below the age of 18.
According to a report published by the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens in 2018-2019, as many as 821 children, including 23 girls, were serving time at eight juvenile correction centres in Bhaktapur, Morang, Kaski, Makawanpur, Parsa, Rupandehi, Banke and Doti.