THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a shocking incident, two prisoners housed at the Covid First Line Treatment Centre at Akathumuri near Varkala fled the place in two separate incidents in the last 24 hours.
Vishnu and Babu, accused in a couple of theft cases, were the ones who escaped from the centre. Vishnu escaped in the wee hours of Monday, while Babu fled in the wee hours of Tuesday.
Varkala police that is probing the incidents said inmates escaped through the ventilation. Two other prisoners had also escaped in this manner from the centre last month.
A senior police officer said the building does not have the facilities to house prisoners. "If you house prisoners in such centres where the ventilations are left opened, this is bound to happen," a police officer said.
Squarely blaming the Prison Department senior officials for selecting such a building to set up the centre, the officer said low-ranking officials of the department were helpless in preventing the prisoners from fleeing.
"The prison staff at the centre can do nothing to prevent the prisoners from escaping. The centre has been set up in a hospital, which is built with a design to house only civilians. Keeping the prisoners here is a dangerous prospect," the police officer said.
The centre was set up to house prisoners before they were moved to prisons. The Covid test were being conducted in the centre and those who turn negative alone will be taken to the jails. The centre was first set up at SMCSI Medical College, Karakonam. The facility was then shifted to Poojappura and finally to Akathumuri citing logistical issues. The prison staff had already wrote to their senior-most officers about the security vulnerabilities of the centre. However, they did not pay heed to the anxieties and instead went ahead with the plan to set up the centre in a desolate place near Varkala.