There is more to the escape of 11 inmates from the Institute of Mental Health in Erragadda than meets the eye. At least two of them, police believe, were not mentally unsound.
While eight of the 11 fugitives were caught on Tuesday itself, a ninth, Dharavath Jeevaratnam, was nabbed at Sattupally in Khammam district on Wednesday.
Police had been tracking mobile phones of his family and close friends.
“He called up a friend from a public telephone booth and sought to know if the public and the police believed him to be a mentally unsound person or a criminal,” a police officer revealed. This has naturally raised suspicion on whether or not Jeevaratnam was actually suffering from any mental disorder.
There were doubts about another fugitive, Qureshi, an undertrial prisoner, who is facing a case under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. He is also believed to have masterminded the escape.
Within 30 minutes of his escape from the Institute, Qureshi drove away in a Tavera arranged by a woman, Shahana.
“Another woman, Alfaz, accompanied him in the Tavera. Qureshi drove the vehicle. All this suggests that he had planned the escape with clockwork precision,” police deduce. While Shahana was detained for interrogation, a hunt is on for Qureshi and Alfaz.
Meanwhile, police questioned Qureshi’s first wife too. She reportedly said Alfaz had been frequently meeting Qureshi after he was shifted to the IMH.
Investigators are verifying if the fugitive’s family had, in any way, helped him escape.
Police suspect that another absconder, C. Tirumalesh of Chittoor, was also not suffering from any disorder.
The incident raises questions on how the trio ended up at the IMH in the first place. Police are now planning to consult other medical experts about the absconders, once they are caught, about their mental condition.
Police are also probing the possibility of the guards at the IMH colluding with Qureshi. Three guards from the City Armed Reserve wing were on duty at the ward on Monday night, when the inmates escaped. Hospital staff have also come under police scanner.
Police believe at least two inmates of those who fled the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) may not have been mentally unsound