A total of 35 inmates of a government home for juveniles in Chennai escaped and three others allegedly inflicted injuries on themselves with sharp objects.
Police said they secured 14 of the escapees within hours and efforts were on to nab the others.
The jurisdictional magistrate is holding an inquiry into the incident which triggered chaos at the observation home in Kellys.
Unrest was in the air at the home since last night with a group of inmates picking up a quarrel with others, an official of the Department of Social Defence under which the Home comes, said.
The situation intensified after three of the inmates were denied bail in their respective cases by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).
"The JJB had reportedly observed that the bail plea of one boy may be considered and this angered three other boys," an official requesting anonymity told PTI.
The three boys then slashed themselves with a sharp object in the home premises and threatened officials, policemen and parents to not try to get near them.
Around the same time, 35 boys escaped from the facility. The three boys who inflicted self-injuries also supported the escape bid of others.
The trio, however, was overpowered by police and taken to a hospital for treatment.
"The jurisdictional JJB magistrate is holding an inquiry into the incident," the official said, adding 14 boys have been secured by police and a search was on for the remaining 21.
On repeated incidents of inmates escaping from the home, he said, "We have roped in ex-service men as well as over 20 personnel for security purposes. But these are children, you cannot treat them like adult prisoners."
Denying any slackness in ensuring order in the home, he said out of the total strength of 74, the inmates were divided into two groups according to their age. "We took care to ensure that senior juveniles do not bully or hurt younger ones," the official added.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:44 PM