As many as 19 inmates of a private de-addiction centre in Chennai were allegedly physically tortured for months before one of them died. Seven people associated with the Madras Care Centre, a de-addiction centre at Royapettah in Chennai, have been arrested, including Mohan, the manager of the institute.
At least 12 inmates from the centre have now been shifted to the Institute of Mental Health at Kilpauk in Chennai for treatment.
The inhuman treatment meted out to inmates came to light after a 45-year-old auto driver’s family complained that the man was physically assaulted and tortured to death at the Madras Care Centre. The police found merit in the complaint. A case has been registered against eight people, including Karthikeyan, administrator of the Madras Care Centre.
Inquiries also revealed that the centre does not have proper approval from the State Mental Health Authority as per the Mental Health Care Act of 2017. The centre was sealed immediately and 12 of the inmates were shifted to the Institute of Mental Health at Kilpauk while seven others were moved to different hospitals at the request of family members.
The Institute of Mental Health (IMH) found that the 12 inmates brought to their centre were physically tortured for several months. “All of them had suffered injuries. Some of them couldn’t even walk because of injuries on their legs,” said a doctor on condition of anonymity.
IMH Director Dr P Poorna Chandrika told The Federal that the inmates suffered physical injuries and were being provided treatment. “Some of them have swelling on different parts of the body including legs and face. We are providing them physical treatment and counselling as well,” she said.
The Director said the inmates were in a state of trauma because of the torture. “Some of them are so scared that they are unable to talk,” Poorna added.
Police personnel privy to the investigation told The Federal that the remaining seven inmates, who were shifted to different hospitals, also suffered severe injuries because of the physical torture inflicted upon them.
The police have registered a case under Sections like 302 (murder) of Indian Penal Code against eight people, including the administrator of the centre. Seven people have been arrested. However, no case has been filed against any of them for physical torture. When asked for a reason, Triplicane Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) P Pakalavan said they are waiting for a legal opinion on whether they should file a separate case for physically torturing the inmates or add the charges to the existing case. “We are aware that all the 19 inmates at the centre were physically tortured. We have filed a murder case in regard,” Pakalavan said.
Meanwhile, IMH has called the family members of the 12 inmates to the institute to let them know about the injuries and the causes of the injuries. “We have to first let them know about the injuries and then we have to discuss their mental condition with the family members. They may open up after seeing their family members,” said Poorna.