Asha Kiran is a Delhi government-run residential care facility for the mentally challenged. It is located in Rohini, Delhi. The facility is responsible for around five hundred residents, mostly from poor families. They suffer from disorders like autism, spasticity, sensory deficits, neurological deficits, and psychiatric disorders in addition to mental retardation. The facility is under the purview of the Social Welfare Department of the Delhi government.
On Saturday, 4 February, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) visited Asha Kiran for a surprise inspection. The Commission found the inhabitants living in inhumane and unhygienic conditions. In its subsequent report, the DCW accused the management of several human rights violations.
The DCW team found the facility’s sanitation facilities in disarray: the toilets were unclean and overflowing, there was excreta and urine in the corridor. The management was understaffed: there was only one “house aunty” to look after 153 residents in one dormitory. The mentally challenged resident of the facility were being made to assist in daily chores while there were also instances of staffers getting their legs pressed by mentally challenged residents.
In its report, the DCW said that 11 inmates of Asha Kiran passed away in the previous two months. During their inspection, DCW authorities also found women inmates walking about naked in the corridors. The facility was found to be overcrowded – in places, four people were occupying one bed. Also, women had to remove their clothes and wait in a line to take a bath. All of this while there were CCTV cameras around the place monitored regularly by male staff.
Speaking to The Times of India, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said, “Our work is to immediately rectify the situation and build accountability into the system. We need to find out what the staff has been doing in the light of the deaths of inmates and miserable conditions at the home. I am extremely disturbed with what I have seen and have asked the secretary of the social welfare department for a response to the notice within 72 hours.”
A PIL filed in the Delhi High Court in 2015 revealed the following:
- Usually over 900 inmates live here against its capacity of 350,
- Over 600 deaths have been reported in the home since 2001,
- It has only 215 caring staff against a requirement of 502.
The Logical Indian take
The DCW revelations about the Asha Kiran Homes For Persons With Mental Disabilities are disturbing and damning. We request the Delhi government to take strict and immediate action against the management and ensure that the inmates are given adequate facilities and infrastructure.