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Bhullar security up,time with family cut to 10 minutes from 4 hrs per day

Health worsens: Convicted terrorist hallucinates he is finance minister; doctors at IHBAS say can’t discharge him.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi |
Updated: April 16, 2014 12:33:30 pm

Three days after the Supreme Court rejected his mercy plea,death row convict Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s security was tightened and the visiting time with his family members curtailed drastically at the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) in Delhi,where he has been admitted since December 2010.

The police personnel guarding his ward room has been doubled to eight from earlier four,officials said Monday. A senior police official from the third battalion of the Delhi Armed Police confirmed that fresh instructions have been issued to IHBAS to cut down the visiting time of Bhullar’s immediate family members and lawyers to 10 minutes,against nearly four hours that they enjoyed till now.

“We allow immediate family members four to five hours with their patients. Bhullar’s wife also spent at least four hours when she came to visit. But when she came here Monday morning,police officials said they have orders to cut down the time to 10 minutes,” a senior doctor at IHBAS said,requesting not to be named. He said doctors have written to the police to extend the visiting time to at least 30 minutes.

Sources said that Bhullar’s attendant —- a ward boy provided by the hospital who has been staying with him for the past nine months —- has been barred from carrying his mobile phone inside the ward room.

On Friday last week,his Canada-based wife Navneet Kaur visited Bhullar and told him about the apex court’s verdict,sources said.

“He was particularly disinterested that day and has been turning down any attempts to counsel him. He has also stopped undergoing physiotherapy for lumbar spondylosis and just keeps lying in bed,” Dr Rajesh Kumar,consultant in psychiatry who has been treating Bhullar since 2007,said.

Always a light eater,sources said that in the last two days,Bhullar has consumed only one chapatti,two glasses of milk and little bit of salad.

Kumar said that Bhullar’s initial diagnosis of depression,now includes psychotic symptoms,and the IHBAS has no plans to discharge him immediately. “We cannot discharge him now since his condition shows no improvement. In fact,there has been a deterioration. When he first came,he only had symptoms of depression. But now,there are psychotic manifestations also. We are giving him anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs with some injectable sedatives on certain occasions,” Dr Kumar added.

Doctors said Bhullar’s psychotic symptoms include certain typical,repeated hallucinations. “He frequently thinks he is the finance minister and keeps calling out for his helicopter saying he has meetings to attend. Sometimes he imagines he is with his father and starts talking to him,” a consultant doctor attending Bhullar said.

The death row convict also does not go out of his room on for walks,saying “someone will stab him.”

Dr Amit Khanna,another consultant in treating Bhullar said,“Sometimes he screams and claims he saw blood on the walls. His conversations are incoherent and he keeps staring into space and keeps talking to himself. He does not show any signs of understanding his case or the legal process.” Doctors have had to sedate him at night on occasions when he suddenly leaves the ward,“calling out to someone.”

Ever since he was admitted to the IHBAS,Bhullar has lost 7 kgs,and now weighs 57 Kg. “His sleep pattern has grown more and more erratic. Now,he barely sleeps a couple of hours at night,” a doctor added.

In its verdict last week,the apex court had observed that “the petitioner’s mental health has deteriorated to such an extent that the sentence awarded to him cannot be executed.”

Doctors said that Bhullar’s routine has also become more and more unstructured over the last two years. “He misses meals and does not even bathe regularly,” a source from the hospital said,adding that during the last few months,when Bhullar was relatively coherent,he had resisted counselling saying: “Doctor sahab,what is the point? How can ever I feel happy?”

However doctors said that he can recognise his family members and the doctor,though he does not engage in any extended conversation even with his wife.

Doctors said no instructions have been communicated to them so far about Bhullar’s discharge or constitution of a medical board to ascertain his condition.

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