The second boy who was detained in connection with the rape of a minor girl at Vidyavati Ashram in Kamshet escaped from the Shivajinagar Observation Home on Monday.
The matter came to light when the boy, who attends a nearby private English school, failed to return to the observation home in the evening. The DNA test result that will determine whether the boy is involved in the rape or not is still not in after five months. Sources said the Std IX student was transferred to the observation home along with another Vidyavati Ashram inmate detained in the case.
After the Juvenile Justice Board passed an order stating the observation home was to take care that the education of these two children having conflict with the law should continue, both the boys were admitted to the nearby private English medium school. Sources said that from July 2 to 6 a teacher from the observation home used to accompany them to the school and back, but as there were only four teachers for seven such classes it was decided that the boys would go to the school unaccompanied.
From July 11 to 13, the runaway boy did not go to school saying he was unwell, and he was referred to the Sassoon General Hospital for treatment. On Monday, he left for school but did not return. The guard realised this as it was pointed out around 8 pm that the 15-year-old boy was missing. According to officials, the boy was apparently disturbed after he was produced before Juvenile Justice Board recently, and as the next hearing of the case was slated on July 20, he might have attempted to escape from home to avoid appearing before the board.
The officials said the boy was also disturbed by the fact that his relatives or his mother had not come to meet him, unlike in the case of the other boy detained in the case. “As the other boy’s father and his sisters came to meet him at least once a month, this boy was disturbed and requested the authorities to take him to Latur to allow him to meet his aunt,” an official said.
The Superintendent of the Shivajinagar Observation Home refused to comment on the matter. District Women and Child Welfare Officer Suvarna Pawar and Deputy Commissioner Rahul More were not available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact them over the phone. Senior Police Inspector Pandharinath Patil of the Shivajinagar police station said that the observation home officials submitted a written application on Monday night asking the police to conduct a search operation for the missing boy.
“We are searching, but nothing concrete has come up,” Patil said. A child rights activist from Sakhee, Anjali Pawar, said that the matter should be investigated thoroughly. “For the last five months both the kids have been made to stay at the observation home on the mere suspicion of their involvement in the rape case,” she said. “Just when the DNA test results are awaited, the boy escapes from the observation home and this is a matter of serious concern. I suspect that he may have been lured away from the home.” She also demanded an explanation on why these children who were in conflict with the law were not accompanied by a guard.
The rape case
The rape of a 13-year-old girl at Vidyavati Ashram came to light in October last year when she was found pregnant, and a 13-year-old boy at the ashram was detained on suspicion of having committed the act. The boy was later transferred to the Shivajinagar Observation Home. Subsequently, a 14-year-old boy from the ashram was also detained on the basis of a statement by the victim. The second boy was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board and transferred to the same observation home. In January, the 13-year-old victim delivered a baby girl. The case has been put up for hearing before the Juvenile Justice Board.