PUDUCHERRY: Four staff members of a juvenile home in Ariyankuppam were on Sunday arrested for aiding a 17-year-old inmate to escape from the facility on multiple occasions. But the fact that it was an inside job that helped the juvenile escape so frequently turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Preliminary inquiries revealed that the staff had not only been complicit in the inmate’s repeated getaways but had their own motive behind getting him off the hook - every time he escapes, he would go on to commit burglaries and sell the looted valuables for money. He would then have to pay `10,000 each to the juvenile home staff as their ‘share’ for aiding his escape. Moreover, the juvenile claimed during interrogation that he had been subjected to threats and physical harm by the staff, who themselves had pressured him to make the escape bid.
The accused - Rajavelu, Balasubramanian, Suresh and Kuppusamy - were arrested after CCTV footage showed them aiding the boy to escape.
The juvenile, who made his first escape from the home last year, has been in and out of the facility on at least three occasions. Most recently, he was arrested on July 20 in connection with a house break-in, after which valuables ranging from electronic gadgets to motorcycles were recovered from him. He was produced before the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) judge, who asked the police to conduct a probe into how the boy had been able to make repeated escape. Acting on her direction, the police installed a secret surveillance camera at the home. On July 23, the camera caught the inmate escaping with the help of the staff. All of them were subsequently nabbed.
After attaining the CCTV footage and the juvenile’s confession, the police arrested the accused under Section 75 (3) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.