ANDHRA PRADESH

6 inmates escape from Institute of Mental Health

Five others caught by staff

Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD: Eleven patients of the Institute of Mental Health at Erragadda escaped after one of them, a mason by profession, dug a hole through the bathroom wall of their ward here on Monday evening. The IMH staff, however, caught five of the fleeing patients within minutes. The rest managed to give a slip.

All the 11 patients were referred to the IMH through various courts for treatment and were kept in the court ward, which had 73 patients in all. Around 7 p.m., a patient Shankaraiah allegedly dug a hole through the bathroom wall a few inches above the floor with an iron stand used for hanging saline bottles.

The bathroom was recently constructed as an extension to the main ward. The wall was some 12-inch thick. "Being a mason, Shankaraiah found where the wall was weak and managed to make a hole of one foot diameter," S.R. Nagar Inspector A. Venkataratnam said.

The 11 inmates escaped through the opening one after the other. Two ward boys who came there to give blankets to the patients noticed that some of them were missing. They immediately raised an alarm and alerted the authorities. Since all of them were clad in uniforms similar to those given to prison inmates, it was easy for the staff to recognise them though it was dark by that time. The entire hospital staff swung into action and a hunt was launched for the fleeing inmates. After combing through the vast tracts of bushes in the hospital premises, the staff could finally round up five of the fugitives. However, Jitender Reddy, Vinod, Nilesh, Devadanam, Shankaraiah and Sudhakar gave them the slip.

Inquiry ordered

The IMH Superintendent Gouri Devi told reporters that none them was dangerous. She stated the patients in the ward almost recovered and were supposed to be released soon after submitting a report to the court. A departmental inquiry would be ordered to find out if there was any negligence of the staff, she said. Another official said release of the patients was delayed due to lack of escort. All of them would have been released otherwise, he said. Mr. Venkataratnam said no criminal case would be booked against the escapees. However, cases of missing persons were registered based on the complaint of IMH officials, he added.

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