New Delhi: Earlier this month, 33 inmates escaped from a Delhi juvenile home after running riot for six hours. They threw burning LPG cylinders on the staff, set fire to exit points and trashed the home before running away. This is the third escape attempt from a Delhi juvenile home in two months.
CNN-IBN investigation has revealed how juvenile homes in the capital are far from being places of reform. In fact these reform homes are potential breeding grounds for tomorrow's hardened criminals.
The inmates were supposedly angry because the officials refused to give them drugs. Two former offenders who were lodged in the reform home in North Delhi shared the life inside these reform homes.
"Drugs, cigarettes and alcohol are all available inside," said one juvenile, whom we will address as juvenile 1 for clarity.
"They asked me if I wanted beedi, cigarettes or chewing tobacco," added another, whom we will address as juvenile 2.
But how do all these substances get into the homes despite security checks?
"Contraband is put into a capsule and swallowed. While entering only pockets are checked. It is later recovered by vomiting," said an inmate.
The inmate claimed that the officials are also aware of this. "Tobacco is hidden in rice. Whoever is checking knows that there is tobacco inside. Often the home guards supposed to watch over the inmates become their partners in crime. Those who don't are targeted," he said.
"Watchmen are bribed with soap for drugs and tobacco . If they refuse to get it, they are beaten up. In exchange for 10 soaps they get one bundle of beedis," added the juvenile.
"Life inside the homes is controlled by gangs of inmates. "The older and strong boys lead the gang. They beat the younger, weaker boys and make them do chores. There will be a group led by one boy. Everyone listens to him," said juvenile 2.
"If we complain we get beaten up. It's easier to get beatings just once than many times by everyone," said juvenile 1, admitting that weaker boys are forced to obey the orders.
He also added that authorities are aware of the situation but tend to look the other way.
"Some of them maintain physical relations too. Those who get scared fall prey," said juvenile 1.
The juveniles also claimed that the authorities try to mentally harass them if they refuse to obey their orders. "They tell us that our parents will leave us and the magistrate won't do anything. They tell us that they will extend their stay and target us in such a way that we won't be worthy of ever getting out," said juvenile 2.
Elaborating further on how juveniles prepare sharpnel inside the reform homes, juvenile 1 said: "Food plates are broken and sharpened like blades to target the others."
The testimonies of the juvenile, shocking as it is, only prepare them for a life in crime.