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 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.

This is what Maliwal retweeted from her account:

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.

b’A file photo of Swati Maliwal | Source: PTI’

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

In November 2016, Delhi Commission for Women had issued a notice to the organisation after it observed overcrowding and shortage of staff during an inspection.

“The commission observed several grievous issues in the home which need urgent attention, especially overcrowding and the shortage of staff. The Asha Kiran home Superintendent has been asked to submit details of total inmates present (gender wise), sanctioned staff of the home, present staff, medical services and diet provided to occupants,” a DCW official had then said.

According to a report by The Indian Express,  51 deaths were reported from the home in 2014. However, in 2005-06, the highest number of deaths were reported with 59 deaths after which the Delhi government appointed a five-member committee to probe into the matter.

(With inputs from PTI)

(Feature image source: Twitter| Kitne Admi The)