A month after 31 inmates died at the Beggars' Rehabilitation Centre here, the number of inmates has come down from 2,500 to 230.

While the centre's officials said that they were releasing only those who are fit and wanting to move out, members of an organisation alleged that they were setting free terminally ill inmates too.

According to M. Ramaiah, secretary of the Central Relief Committee, which is overseeing the affairs of the centre, a group of recruits to the Social Welfare Department went about a survey of the inmates of the centre. “There were about 200 inmates who wanted to leave the centre,” he said.

The centre has now initiated the process of releasing such inmates. “After medical examination, such inmates are produced before a Tahsildar. It is only on his order we release the inmates,” Mr. Ramaiah said.

Similarly, the centre is admitting only those persons found begging by a police officer or the Superintendent of the Beggars' Rehabilitation Centre.

Members of Jaya Karnataka alleged that terminally ill patients were being released by the centre. They also showed a person affected by epilepsy and claimed that he was among the inmates released by the centre. But the jurisdictional Kamakshipalya police said that the epilepsy afflicted person was brought to the centre by protestors who sought his admission there as a beggar. When the centre refused, the members launched the protest, a police officer said.

G. Harimurthy, medical officer of the centre, said that none of the 230 inmates lodged at the centre had any serious ailments.

“Some of them have cough and cold and we are giving them treatment. Those who need specialised treatment are being referred to the Victoria and Bowring and Lady Curzon hospitals,” he said.

As many as three inmates were sent to the Bowring Hospital on Saturday after they showed symptoms of tuberculosis. They have now been referred to the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases, Dr. Harimurthy said.

A doctor from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences has been visiting the centre once a week and examining the 98 inmates who are mentally ill. The centre is working towards sending these inmates to the facility available at the Karnataka Institute of Mental Health in Dharwad.

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