TIRUCHY: In a shocking incident, 27 patients at a private de-addiction centre in Tiruchy were found to have been chained, kept indoors and allegedly assaulted by staff at the centre which charged Rs 15,000 a month for their treatment. The issue came to light on Monday following the death on Saturday of R Tamil Selvan, a 36-year-old police constable from Cuddalore, admitted to the Lifecare de-addiction centre, which functioned out of a rented building at Anbazhagan Nagar in KK Nagar, on May 28.
He became ill on Saturday night and was taken to a private hospital where doctors declared him brought dead. His relatives were told and they arrived to take the body.“While washing his body, we noticed some bruises.
Growing suspicious, we decided to come to the centre after the burial. When we came here on Monday, the staff did not let us in but we insisted,” Tamil Selvan’s relative K V Elankeeran of Kandamangalam said.
Inside, they found 27 patients, chained, many covered in bruises. Patients told Express they had been treated like animals, confined to the small hall for months. They had been made to wear chains at their hands and feet and said they were often beaten by the centre’s staff. Based on a complaint from Tamil Selvan’s relatives KK Nagar police registered a case under Section 174 of CrPC and will exhume the body for a postmortem exam.
They beat us for smiling, talking or even for not sleeping: de-addiction centre patients
When R Tamil Selvan, a 36-year-old police constable at Pennadam police station in Cuddalore, was suspended due to his addiction to alcohol, his family decided to get him help. They turned to the Internet where they learnt of the Lifecare de-addiction centre in Tiruchy. They admitted him there on May 28. On June 1, they were told he had died. Suspicious about his death, on Monday they forced their way to the centre and were shocked to find 27 patients chained at the hands and feet, many covered in bruises. “They were so happy to see us and considered us their liberators,” said Selvan’s relative K V Elankeeran.
One patient told Express that they had been confined to the small hall for months. “I am seeing sunlight and breathing fresh air after several weeks,” said the patient. Venkatesan, a cop being treated there, said “They beat us all the time. They beat us for smiling, talking, for not sleeping and so on.”A patient, who was admitted three months ago, said, “If the supervisors saw us talking to one another, they would beat us with iron rods and chains after gagging us.”
Sangapillai of Viralipatti, a relative of one patient, said “Whenever I came to see my relative, the management refused to let me meet him, claiming it would affect the treatment.” The patients also complained that there was no doctor at the centre and they were simply given some tablets by the staff.
However, C Manivannan, who runs the centre, refuted the charges. “Our centre has been treating addicts for the past five years.
During treatment, some drugs may cause hallucinations and make the patient behave a bit more aggressively. That is why, with the consent of family, we chain them,” he told Express over the phone. “Tamil Selvan suffered a seizure that night and was taken to the hospital but he died on the way,” he said, denying patients had been assaulted. He said a doctor had been visiting the centre once a week.
Tamil Selvan’s relatives lodged a complaint with the KK Nagar police station demanding a proper inquiry into his death. Sahaya Anbarasu, inspector at KK Nagar police station, said, “A case was registered under Section 174 (suspicious death) of CrPC. We will exhume the body and, on the spot, a postmortem exam will be conducted under the supervision of a Tahsildar. Based on the postmortem report, further action will be taken.”
Thamimunisha, district social welfare officer, noted that it was illegal to restrain a person with iron chains. However, some restraints were allowed with consent of the patient’s family, if the person was aggressive, she said.