Indian Express: New Delhi: Saturday, February 18, 2017.
Even as the Delhi administration tries to fix glaring lapses in the Asha Kiran home for the mentally challenged in Rohini, inquiries made under the Right to Information (RTI) Act indicate that apart from deaths of inmates some as young as eight there have also been cases of inmates going missing from the home. Raising questions over security and supervision provided at the home, information furnished by Asha Kiran under the RTI shows that 24 inmates “escaped” between 2011 and 2017. The RTI application was filed by social activist Raj Hans Bansal, a resident of Rohini Sector 4.
According to information provided on February 13 by the home, 11-year-old Azam was reported missing on January 20, 2016, and 16-year-old Tanya was reported missing on June 18, 2016. As per Asha Kiran’s “escape record”, two of the 24 inmates, who went missing in the last six years, were females. Psychiatrists feel inmates do have a sense of curiosity, but fleeing from a closed set-up indicates something could be lacking with the security.
“The reasons for them to leave could either be that there is no security or a lack of recreational activities. They may be in the home without anything to do,” Dr Nand Kumar, professor, department of psychiatry, AIIMS, said. The highest number of deaths at the home was recorded in 2014, when 32 males and 18 females died.
Between January 1, 2016 and January 31, 2017, Asha Kiran reported 40 deaths 24 males and 16 females. Of these, six were reported in January this year. Of the male inmates who died during this period, only two were aged 30 or above. The youngest was eight-year-old Abbas Khan, who died on June 25, 2016, information received under the RTI stated. There were eight teenagers among the male inmates who died in the last one year. Among the 16 female Asha Kiran inmates who died during this period, five were between the ages of 39 and 56.
According to information under the RTI, three of the female inmates who died were teenagers, and eight were in their 20s. After the Delhi Commission for Women carried out a surprise inspection of the Asha Kiran premises on February 3 and pointed out “shocking” conditions, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had directed the chief secretary to remove “deficiencies in a week”.
Government sources Friday told The Indian Express that chief secretary M M Kutty has submitted his report to Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. According to government sources, Sisodia is of the view that the home should be headed by a psychiatrist. While the government will not outsource the job, a psychiatrist on the government’s panel will be expected to work pro bono.