Juvenile home inmates snatch rifles, assault cops; two go missing

Angered by constables slapping two boys, the inmates of a juvenile reform centre and observation home in Hardoi district snatched four rifles from policemen, fired in air and fought a pitched battle with the police for over three hours in City Kotwali police station area on Wednesday. Three constables were injured in brick-batting.

A police force, led by the district magistrate and the SP, managed to bring the inmates back to the centre and recovered the rifles. However, district probation officer Yogesh Saxena said two of the 59 inmates, both from different areas in Hardoi, were missing.

Hardoi SP R K Srivastava said the trouble started when an inmate objected to smoking by another inmate, who is about 22 years old now and has been kept in the centre for the past six years in a theft case. The elder boy hit the minor one, leading to a clash between groups of inmates.

Two police constables on sentry duty came, along with the staff, to separate the groups and slapped the two boys. This angered the inmates who attacked the constables and four staff members.

Srivastava said the boys snatched the service rifles and cartridges of the constables and started firing in the air. The policemen and the staff members ran away and returned with two other armed constables from a nearby outpost. But the inmates, who had in the meantime walked out of the centre through unmanned gates, attacked the other constables and snatched their rifles too.

The inmates then ransacked the office, store room and superintendent's cabin. A few climbed on the water tank on the terrace and started firing in the air, said the SP.

The SP, along with the DM and a police force then rushed to the centre to pacify the inmates. Those outside were persuaded to go back inside. But it took about an hour to bring down the boys from water tank and the terrace and collect the rifles and cartridges, the SP said.

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