In grim imitation of a protest by 20 juvenile inmates at a Tongi correction centre in February, boys of the Jessore juvenile centre yesterday gashed their wrists, arms and chests.
This time at least 12 children hurt themselves in protest at a teenage girl not being allowed to meet an inmate the day before. She was also allegedly harassed by the policemen guarding the centre, Kishore Unnayan Kendra.
Having seen no response by the authorities to a formal complaint, they also vandalised windows of the dormitories and prison vans and hurled stones at the policemen. The law enforces then baton-charged the children and fired five blank shots to calm the situation.
The clash between the police and juveniles left one boy, Nazmul, badly injured. He was rushed to Jessore Medical College Hospital.
The visitor was the girlfriend of an inmate named Jisan, said Mohammad Shahabuddin, assistant director of the centre, adding that inmates were furious because she had not been let in.
Jisan, however, told The Daily Star that the girl, aged 13, was his relative. “They [the policemen] slapped her, pushed her around and did not allow her to meet me.”
The adolescents made a complaint in this regard yesterday morning around 10:00am during the assembly to the assistant superintendent of the centre, Abul Basar, and demanded an action, reported our correspondent from Jessore.
He instead castigated the children and hurled abuse, infuriating them, inmates said.
They then carried out the violence and slashed their wrists, arms and chests. At one point, they swooped on the policemen, leading to the baton-charging and firing.
Two police constables were also injured in the clash. Additional law enforcers were deployed to bring the situation under control, reported our correspondent.
The children said the protest had also been resulted from poor quality food and verbal abuse on a regular basis at the centre.
Deputy Commissioner Mostafizur Rahman and Superintendent of Police Anisur Rahman visited the centre. They formed a three-member committee headed by Additional District Magistrate Sohel Hasan to look into the matter. The body will submit the report within seven days.
SP Anisur said all the eight policemen at the centre had been replaced.
A similar committee headed by Meshkat Ahmed Chowdhury, director general of the Department of Social Services, had investigated the horrifying protest at the Tongi centre against the abuse by the superintendent.
The probe was termed “contradictory” by the High Court on April 3. It observed that the report had given the management of the centre a clean chit though the children complained of abuse.
The HC now awaits a response from the government to an order asking it to submit a report on the steps taken to deal with the mismanagement of the centre.
The next order will be given on May 14.