Three more inmates of the Beggars' Rehabilitation Centre died on Friday, taking the toll to 23 over the last four days following the sickness after eating the Independence Day lunch.

While two died at the Epidemic Diseases (Isolation) Hospital, a woman was found dead in a dormitory at the centre on Magadi Road.

The dead woman's body was chanced upon by a team of Communist Party of India (Marxist) workers in dormitory number 2, which houses the mentally ill.

The activists entered the home after staging a protest against the shocking state of affairs there.

“The body was worm-ridden and nobody has bothered to remove it even after hours,” said Tejaswini, a CPI (M) activist.

G. Harimurthy, Medical Officer, said the woman had died six hours ago.

“I needed a requisition to remove it,” he said.

The incensed activists then shouted slogans against the officials. Nearly an hour after the demonstration, the police brought the requisition and took away the body.

VIP visits

Earlier in the day, Ministers V.S. Acharya, Suresh Kumar and Basavaraj Bommai dropped in and inspected the conditions in the eight dormitories.

Then came Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, Karnataka State Human Rights Commission chairman S.R. Nayak, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike officers, led by the Commissioner Siddaiah, and Janata Dal (Secular) leaders H.D. Revanna and P.G.R. Sindhia.

More escape

Just as they did on Thursday, a large number of inmates fled the premises on Friday too.

After interacting with the inmates, Mr. Siddaramaiah asked the personnel to release the healthy ones.

There was some commotion as his followers allegedly beat up a staff member holding him responsible for locking up two ill inmates in a police van the day before, who later died. As Mr. Siddaramaiah was winding up his visit, a group of men prompted the inmates to go out of the campus. “Since yesterday evening the centre's personnel have been asking us to leave. I could not as it was dark. I'm going away today,” said 70-year-old Francis, who was walking towards Magadi Road.

Job offer

Around 12.30 p.m., some 500 inmates emerged from their dormitories and headed towards the exit. As they were moving out, at least one of them got a job offer: a man who claimed to own a security agency asked a grizzled veteran to join his agency. Pressing his card into the old man's hand, he said he could join him and bring along his compatriots too.

No stomach for it

Some of the inmates who tasted freedom appeared to not have a fancy to it. Around 5 p.m. a few of them lurched back. While one was found carrying packets of biscuits, another had a cover filled with buns. As for the others, they were spotted wandering around in several areas on Magadi Road.

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