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Shocking: 11 deaths in two months at Asha Kiran home; DCW chief issues notice

New Delhi: Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal on Sunday said she was “shocked” to see gross violation of human rights at Asha Kiran Home for mentally-challenged persons here where women were roaming naked in unhygienic surroundings.

Maliwal, along with DCW member Promila Gupta and other staff members, spent the night at the shelter home on Saturday and found that 11 deaths have occurred there in the past two months.

“Women were being made to remove their clothes in the open while being lined up for taking a bath. Shockingly, completely nude women were roaming around in the corridors.

Moreover, the corridors of the dormitory had CCTV cameras installed which are being monitored by male staffers. The Commission saw the CCTV footage which captured mentally- challenged women roaming around nude,” Maliwal said in a statement.

The commission said it was “deeply disturbed at the inhuman condition” in the home and Maliwal issued a notice to the Secretary of the Delhi government’s Social Welfare department to respond within 72 hours as the “matter is extremely serious and concerns the life and liberty of the residents”.

In its notice, the DCW said, “It is to be remembered that the state has a huge responsibility to look after the mentally -challenged people. The state needs to make special efforts to look after them as at times they are unable to share and communicate themselves like others.”

It has also set up an inquiry into the condition of the home and asked the Social Welfare secretary to give it data on the deaths in the home in last one year, whether the department’s senior officials were aware of the problems and the action taken by them to rectify it.

During her visit to the home, Maliwal found it extremely crowded as four persons were sharing each mattress and toilets were extremely unhygienic and shortage of staff.

It said there were no adequate blankets for the inmates in the winter season and even wheel chairs were not being used as women and children in need were crawling on the floor unattended to reach the toilets.

It found home short of doctors as only one psychiatrist visits the home and several posts of doctors were vacant.

“There was no guard stationed at the entrance of female wing,” it said.