33 deaths at Changanassery rehab centre in 8 years, probe on

At least 30 deaths at Changanassery rehab centre in 8 years, probe on
Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Anil Oommen talking to media after inspecting the rehabilitation centre.

Kottayam: The preliminary investigation conducted by Additional District Magistrate (ADM) into the frequent deaths at Puthujeevan Trust in Thrikkodithanam, near Changanassery, revealed around 33 inmates of the rehabilitation centre had died over the past eight years. Out of this, three allegedly committed suicide at the centre.

“Some of these deaths might be suicides and a detailed probe will be carried out,” ADM Anil Oommen said. The official had also inspected the register of the centre from 2012 before arriving at the figure of 33 deaths.

Among those who died, 16 were below the age of 60.

A probe was ordered into the functioning of the Puthujeevan Trust, also a de-addiction centre, after three inmates of the rehab centre –identified as Sherin, 44, Gireesh, 41, and Abraham Yuhannon, 21– died in a week's time.

Probe is also on to find whether the three deceased were given psychiatric medications that contain a high amount of Lead.

There was also a dispute related to the licence issued to the Trust, Oommen said.

After the frequents deaths hit headline, 17 of the inhabitants of the rehab home were taken home by their relatives yesterday.

During the inspection, it was found that 5 children were brought to the centre un the past one year for counselling and diagnosis. Child Welfare Committee (CWC) chairperson Sheeja Anil also visited the centre for further inspection Sunday.

Apart from inspecting the centre, the ADM took statements from locals and staff. “A report would be submitted to the District Collector in a couple of days,” he said.

Meanwhile, another inmate of the centre was admitted to a private hospital in Thiruvalla on Sunday. Six inmates are already under treatment at Government Medical College, Kottayam.

Blood tests of the patients had revealed that they had no viral disease.

District medical officer (DMO) Dr Jacob Verghese also ruled out coronavirus and H1N1. The patients exhibited symptoms akin to lung ailments, vomiting and swelling on legs.

After the locals raised suspicion over the three recent deaths, the state government had intervened.

Health Minister K K Shylaja announced the formation of a committee to probe the deaths.

She said the committee will be led by the Health Secretary.

Locals had charged that the inmates of the centre run by the Trust, headed by a retired cop, were tortured at the facility. However, according to the centre, it had been offering services for the mentally challenged, destitutes and abandoned elderly persons for the last three decades.

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