The family of the 16-year-old boy, who was shot at in a police station during questioning, had no clue about the incident until mediapersons turned up outside their one-room, asbestos-roofed house in Vettuvankeni, on Tuesday evening.

The youngest in the household, the boy was picked up by the Neelankarai police on Monday night in connection with a probe into a hundi theft case in the area.

“He left home with his mother on Monday morning, and did not return. Now, we learn he has been shot. What did the small boy do to be punished so brutally?” said the teenager’s aunt. His mother works in a hotel, cleaning dishes for a living. He also has an older brother, a class XII student, and an older sister who is said to be mentally ill.

His father passed away two years ago after prolonged illness. Utter poverty drove the boy to take up odd jobs — he worked as a tea-seller and as an attendant in a school van.

According to the police, he began committing thefts in 2011. “He was lodged at a juvenile home last year and released later. He had planned to go back to work as a van attendant,” said the boy’s neighbour.

He was admitted to Global Hospital in Perumbakkam and is in the ICU.

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