It wasn’t a matter of minutes but days of painstaking preparations that assisted 17 girls in escaping from the Shiv Shakti remand home at Govandi on Monday. MiD DAY had reported the incident yesterday (17 girls rescued by Dhoble flee remand home). MiD DAY visited the institution yesterday to find out what lies behind the steep walls.
According to cops it would not have been possible for the girls to make good their escape without some local help. Apart from the walls and barbed wire fences, a strict vigil is maintained both inside and outside the gates. Authorities say the runaways had cut the iron grills inside the bathroom using a blade. After getting out of there, they must have encountered the compound wall — eight-feet high from outside, but only six feet in height from the inside. The girls must have scaled this hurdle and fled.
Doesn’t add up!
A counting of inmates is carried out twice a day. When the first one was done at 9 am on Monday, the girls were found missing. Panic spread and a search was launched. Later, a missing complaint was lodged at Govandi police station. Yesterday, cops began their investigation and found out that the iron grills had been cut over two days.
Police have started collecting the details of the absconders, including their addresses. DCP of zone VI Vijay Vhatkar said, “We have sent our men to their homes and other possible locations where the girls may have gone. We are also contacting their parents and taking their help.”
Who saw what
MiD DAY spoke to a local resident who witnessed the girls escaping. A garage owner, identified as Ashok Bhai, said, “I was brushing my teeth at around 7 am when I saw five girls surmounting the wall of the remand home. I managed to catch one of them and asked her where she was going. She said there was a problem at home and her sister had gone towards the railway tracks. I let her go but then realised I had never seen her before in the area. I tried going after her but it was too late.”
The watchman of the garage then told Ashok that several girls had bolted. Witnesses say others have escaped from the remand home before, but never in such large numbers at once.
Mahesh Kanojia, who resides nearby, said, “This remand home has been here for over a year and it has a big boundary wall. If girls escape, we cannot do anything as they may turn out to be residents of the village. I saw these girls in nightdresses escaping from here on Monday.”
Reacting to these claims, Vhatkar said, “We are inquiring whether any insider is involved. But there’s no doubt the escape was planned. We are also trying to find out how the girls managed to get hold of the tools, and why not one of the 11 watchmen present saw them running away.”