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Undertrial opens fire at NIMHANS in Bengaluru; no casualties

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Bengaluru: A 22-year-old mentally-ill prisoner was critically injured on Sunday night in a shootout at a state-run hospital here, police said.

“Undertrial prisoner Vishwanath is being treated at another hospital after he was critically injured in a shootout with our commandos at Nimhans,” Additional Commissioner of Police CH Pratap Reddy told IANS here.

The shootout took place around 7 p.m. at the state-run National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans) where Vishwanath locked himself up in a room after firing about 20 rounds indiscriminately with a .303 rifle he snatched from a guard escorting him from the central jail for a check-up.

Known to be a notorious rowdy, Vishwanath was arrested in July 2012 in Bengaluru on a murder charge and lodged in the central jail on the city’s outskirts since then, pending trial.

“After jail doctors recommended treatment for Vishwanath’s mental illness and fiery temper, he was referred to Nimhans for misbehaving with other inmates and turning violent,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) B.S. Lokesh Kumar told reporters earlier.

According to a witness, gun shots were heard around 3 p.m. from a patients’ ward, resulting in commotion, panic and screaming by many in-patients.

As Vishwanath was being taken inside the hospital, he asked the escorting guard to allow him to go to the toilet.

Emerging out of it, he suddenly snatched the .303 SLR (self-loading rifle) with chain-belt of bullets from the guard’s hand and threatened to kill him and in-patients if they tried to capture him.

Police summoned Garuda commandos of the internal security, trained to deal with such situations, to neutralise Vishwanath and take him out alive.

“The commandos cordoned off the building in which the prisoner was holed up after in-patients were shifted to other wards,” Kumar said.

Being Sunday, the hospital in the southern suburb did not have many people, as out-patients are not seen on a holiday and majority of doctors had a day off.

Commissioner of Police NS Megharikh and ACP Reddy rushed to the hospital to supervise the operation.

“An under treatment prisoner at NIMHANS in possession of weapons fired randomly. Situation under control. No casualties. Commandos in charge,” Additional Commissioner of Police (West) Pratap Reddy said.

Police said the prisoner, involved in a murder case, had been undergoing treatment at NIMHANS’s jail ward for some time.

IANS