HYDERABAD: A number of mentally ill prisoners brought by police to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) at Erragadda here from all over the state continue to languish there even after being cured. The reason: the police department does not have enough personnel to escort them back to their prisons. The patients have been admitted in the hospital on the orders of respective district magistrates.
As many as 60 mentally ill prisoners who have undergone treatment at the IMH and pronounced fit have not been taken back though hospital officials have discharged them. Some of them are stuck at the hospital for more than six months.
Dr V Pramod Kumar, superintendent of the hospital, said prisoners with mental issues are just being dumped here. We have been informing the officials concerned through mail, telephone and letters, but they are not responding, he said.
At the IMH, there are two closed-wards with police security for mentally ill patients--one for men and another for women. The total number of patients in the wards is 160. Among them are 60 prisoners, including 15 women, who have been cured and pronounced fit. There is another group of 20 cured patients who were left there by NGOs and respective family members. No one came to take them back, Dr Pramod said. “The delays range from one week to six months. The hospital finds it difficult to keep and guard them,” he said.
The cured patients feel frustrated to stay at the hospital, says R Narayana, one such patient. (His real identity is withheld as per the law). He was informed by hospital officials in September that he was cured and can go back. He was a convict in a smuggling case and brought there by police. “I cannot go back on my own. I feel staying in a mental hospital is like living in hell. I do not know why policemen are not coming and taking me back,” he said.
The armed reserve police arrange escort for prisoners when they are moved from one place to another, but the force is plagued by shortage of staff. “When we ask the reserve police to provide escort to take back patients, we are never given enough number of personnel,” said a prisons department official.
N Suryanarayana, joint commissioner of police, city armed reserve, says now prisoner escorts are provided in adequate numbers when the force is not tied up with other tasks. “We are planning to improve,” he says.