DNA: New Delhi: Monday, April 03, 2017.
Aarja, an athlete who won a silver medal for the country in the 200-metre race at the 2003 Dublin Special Olympics World Winter Games, mysteriously went missing from Asha Kiran, the Delhi government's home for mentally ill, in 2009 has not yet been traced.
A day after she was taken to the home, she went missing and her name now only finds mention in government files as a missing person.
"She came to the home on November 23, 2009, and has been missing since November 24, 2009. A missing report was filed at Mukherjee Nagar police station. She has not been found yet," a reply to a query under the Right to Information Act (RTI) says. The RTI was filed by social activist Raj Hans Bansal.
According to information provided on February 13 by the home, 24 inmates have escaped from Asha Kiran between 2011 to 2017. 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.
According to sources, Aarja was taken to Rajan Babu TB hospital in Mukherjee Nagar with a house 'aunty,' Saraswati to see one of the inmates Saleem who was admitted to the hospital on November 24.
"But due to some work, Saraswati had to rush back to Asha Kiran. She left the hospital leaving behind Aarja. On returning, Aarja was nowhere to be seen," said a member from the home.
A missing complaint was filed at the Mukherjee Nagar police station. "Saraswati later died and the police have not been able to trace Aarja yet," said Amit Kumar Singh, Executive Magistrate, Deputy Commissioner, Rohini.
The Special Olympics hosts athletic competitions for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The competition is held every two years, alternating between the Special Olympics World Summer Games and the Special Olympics World Winter Games.
In 2017, the Special Olympics World Winter Games were held in Austria, which in 1993, became the first country other than the USA to host it.
DNA in its campaign has been highlighting inhuman living conditions at Asha Kiran that functions under the department of social welfare. As many as 11 inmates have died in the last two months. The post-mortem report of the five inmates who died inside the home suggested poor nourishment as the cause.
The home which houses males, females and youngsters has no medical specialist, physiotherapist, and psychologist as of now. These posts have been lying vacant for too long, also revealed the RTI query.
"As many as 25 inmates are suffering from Tuberculosis and five from HIV," the RTI stated.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had also issued a notice to the secretary of the department of social welfare after its chief Swati Maliwal, along with other staff members, carried out an inspection at the shelter home and found that 11 deaths had occurred in a span of two months.
"The commission has submitted the recommendations to the government. The state government will now take the final call," said a senior Delhi government official requesting anonymity.