Prisoner snatches cop’s rifle, fires in air at Bengaluru hospital

Bengaluru : A mentally-ill prisoner on Sunday caused panic by firing in the air with a rifle he snatched from an escorting policeman at a state-run mental hospital here, police said adding that commandos were trying to disarm and nab the accused who was holed up in a hospital room.

“The incident occurred around 3 p.m. when the accused, Vishwanath, was being escorted for treatment at the hospital. No injury or casualty so far,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) B.S. Lokesh Kumar told reporters.

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Known to be a rowdy element, Vishwanath was arrested in May 2011 in the city on a murder charge and lodged in the central jail on the city’s outskirts since then.

“After jail doctors recommended further treatment for Vishwanath’s mental illness, he was taken to the National Institute of Mental and Neurosciences for check-up and tests, as he was misbehaving with inmates and turning violent,” Kumar said, citing jail authorities.

According to a witness, gun shots were suddenly heard in a ward, leading to commotion and panic among patients and hospital staff.

“Vishwanath entered a room and locked himself up after firing 7-8 rounds in the air and threatened to kill if he was touched,” the DCP said quoting the escorting policeman.

Police summoned Garuda commandos of the state reserved police, trained to deal with such situations, to take Vishwanath out of the room alive.

Commandos cordoned off the building in which the prisoner was holed up after patients inside were shifted to other wards. An operation to disarm and nab Vishwanath was on, the police official added.

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 have a day off.

City police commissioner N.S. Megharikh and additional police commissioner C.H. Pratap Reddy rushed to the hospital to supervise the operation.