THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a major security lapse, two prisoners under observation at Covid First-line Treatment Centre (CFLTC) at Akathumuri near Varkala escaped in the wee hours of Sunday by breaking the ventilator.
The escaped prisoners have been identified as Aneesh, 27, of Neyyattinkara and Muhammed Shan, 18, of Chithara in Kollam. Shan was accused of theft, while Aneesh was a detainee under KAPA Act (Kerala Police Act).
Varkala police said the duo escaped by 2 am. CFLTC in Akathumuri is meant for housing the newly arrived prisoners who are to be tested for Covid-19. Those who turn negative alone are shifted to the prisons, while the infected prisoners are provided treatment at the centre itself.
Varkala police said 35 inmates were under observation at Akathumuri facility and there were four prison staff present to provide them security. The duo gave the prison staff a slip and escaped through the ventilator, the police said.
Varkala Station House Officer said there was a lapse from the part of prison officials as all four were asleep when the escape happened.
"The prison officials were not aware of the escape, though two other inmates tried to prevent the duo, who had escaped, from fleeing. There is lethargy from their side and this matter will be reported to higher officials," the Station House Officer said.
The Prisons Department sources, meanwhile, countered this. An officer said that the CFLTC in Akathumuri did not have the facilities to house prisoners.
"The CFLTC here is functioning in a hospital and that does not have security features required to keep prisoners," said the officer.
He added that the CFLTC in the district was first set up at SMCSI, Karakkonam, which had enough facilities, and then shifted to the campus of LBS Women's Engineering College, Poojappura on flimsy reasons.
However, the LBS officials later said they have to conduct exams in the College and asked the district administration to shift the CFLTC somewhere else.
"The district administration then gave us Akathumuri facility. We had informed the authorities that shifting prisoners from one place to another and housing them in buildings that do not have adequate security measures in place is risky. Now, it's not right to pin the blame on us for the prisoners escape," said the officer.