Panic reigned through the night at the King George's Medical University here when an under-trial, brought to the hospital for psychiatric evaluation, got hold of the service rifle of the escorting constable and threatened to open fire.
The drama began around 9 pm on Thursday and continued till 4.30 am on Friday as all efforts to cajole or coerce under-trial Srichand into submission failed. "He even fired two rounds, but luckily no one was injured," said Deputy Superintendent of Police RN Singh.
Eventually, when Srichand appeared to be getting drowsy, a team of armed policemen broke through the bolted door of the ward and overpowered him.
Srichand had been brought here from Rath town of Hamirpur district on May 29, after he had been arrested for allegedly killing his own daughter and attempting to murder his wife.
He was admitted to the psychiatric ward of the medical university as the police wanted him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before beginning prosecution proceedings.
As soon as the constables accompanying Srichand stepped out of the hospital to have dinner on Thursday night leaving their rifles, he bolted the ward from inside and with the weapon in hand threatened to kill anyone trying to persuade him to open the door.
Srichand fired at one of the constables who tried to enter from a ventilator. "Luckily the constable escaped unhurt," said Singh
District magistrate Chandra Bhanu, who arrived on the scene to oversee the operation, blamed the negligent policemen for the incident. "It was all on account of the callous behaviour of the two police constables detailed to escort him," he said.
"Constables Santosh Kumar and Jwala Prasad were careless enough to leave their official weapons inside the ward while they went out to eat. They have been suspended for the gross dereliction of their duty," said Bhanu.