13 patients escape, 21 rescued from rehab centre

Kathmandu, December 7

Police raided a rehab centre in Sukedhara and rescued 21 patients, who were allegedly subjected to physical and metal torture, after 13 patients escaped from the centre and filed a complaint.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Homindra Bogati at Metropolitan Police Range, Teku, told THT that Santosh Ghimire, 32, owner of Transformation Nepal, and one of its employee Samit Malla, 40, were arrested for meting out inhuman treatment to patients expecting proper medical care and psycho-social service. They hail from Bhairahawa.

“The victims were being tortured and not given proper treatment in the rehab centre licensed to provide service to drug and alcohol addicts,” he said. A police team led by DSP Bogati swung into action after 13 patients managed to escape from the rehab centre and filed an FIR against Ghimire.

“They came to us and told harrowing tales of abuse, mistreatment and torture at the rehab centre prompting us to initiate action against the suspects immediately,” DSP Bogati said.

A total of 32 persons have been reintegrated with the concerned families, while two others are in care of cops as their families are not in Kathmandu valley. The rehab centre also lacked basic facilities as required under the existing laws.

“More than 15 persons were found to have been kept in a single room with no adequate space to sleep. The owner of the rehab centre used to lock them up in the room most of the time without even allowing them to answer the nature’s call. Ghimire and his staff would let patients leave the room to defecate only once a day, that too one by one and under strict supervision. The rooms were littered with faeces and urine,” DSP Bogati said.

The patients in the age group of 19 to 70 years, include doctors, engineers and retired schoolteachers. Those below the age of 40 years are drug addicts, while others are alcoholics. The patients were not even allowed to meet their guardians and relatives for more than a year. The rehab centre collected an annual fee of Rs 400,000 from the concerned families.

“Ghimire also used dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack to ensure that they did not leave the rehab centre,” DSP Bogati said.

Kathmandu District Court has remanded Ghimire and Malla to five-day judicial custody. They will be liable to a jail term of up to five years and a fine not exceeding Rs 50,000, if convicted.