Hospital Break: Security Lapse Comes to the Fore
The shocking incident on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday where 11 undertrials escaped from the prisoners’ ward at the Institute of Mental Health in Erragadda has once again brought to light the lack of security system at the hospital. Though eight prisoners have been nabbed three are still at large.
Admitting the lapses in the security setup, the hospital superintendent Dr Pramod Kumar on Tuesday told Express that once any mentally ill patient is out of the enclosure, it was impossible to stop him/her from fleeing.
Against the mandatory requirement of two boundary walls as part of wider security arrangements, the hospital which houses around 600 mentally ill patients including 60 mentally ill undertrials, there is only one compound wall which has several unauthorised openings and largescale encroachments inside the campus.
A new prisoners’ ward that has been under construction for over two years, is yet to be completed. The skeleton of the building which could be seen near the present prisoners’ ward is reportedly stuck due to paucity of funds and once completed would have solar fencing and boundary walls.
Explaining the ground reality, the superintendent said, ‘’We have 22 outsourced security guards but they are not sufficient. We are soon going to call for tenders for more guards.”
The prisoners’ ward will have 60 undertrials on any given day and is manned by two hospital staff, one Reserve Sub Inspector (RSI) and three police constables. The safety and custody of the undertrials is the responsibility of the police, the superintendent said.
Meanwhile, police claim no negligence from their part. “There is no negligence on the part of doctors or police. We were present on three different occasions when the matter seemed to have gone out of control but on seeing us, they subsided. Also, we do not have permission to go inside and deal with the undertrials and our primary duty was safety of others in the enclosure,” V Satyanarayana, DCP, West Zone told Express.
And not ruling out the possibility of a well planned hospital break, the superintendent added, ‘’Mental illness is not mental retardation. They can plan things meticulously at a short notice and even can be very productive in their actions and thoughts. Not having allowed to meet his wife could have triggered him and within no time, he created panic inside, locked up other patients, threatened everyone and also broke open after burning down all available records.”