After almost four years of confinement, it was the watchful eye of the residents of Malleswaram 16th Cross road on 12th Main that saved Amrita (name changed),35, from alleged ill-treatment by her own family.
The small cement-sheeted house inside which Amrita lived was dimly lit with withered coconut fronds scattered inside the compound. The two-bedroom house with scanty furniture was found to be untidy and the woman was in one of the bedrooms lying on the floor. The household hardly had visitors - be it neighbours, friends or relatives.
Amrita’s next door neighbour Vijay Kumar said that he had heard cries of distress and desperation coming from this house since four or five years.
He and a few other people from the neighbourhood decided to call up the police on Tuesday. “We used to hear sounds as though a person was shouting in pain and hunger.
So, we called up the police control room and informed them about this situation,” he said.
Another neighbour, Seema Bhasin, said she had not seen the girl for over 10 years. In fact, on Monday night, in the absence of Amrita’s father, Bhasin went and spoke to her along with a few other neighbours. “When we spoke to her, she asked for assurance of protection from whoever approached her. We still don’t know what went on in this room for so many years that has made her come to a condition like this,” she said.
Amidst theories of harassment by her family, her younger brother rubbished all such allegations. He said, “She was ill and we took her to Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) last year. She is not able to move her hands and legs and that is why she was in that room,” he said.
Shiv Murthy, her cousin, said the girl’s father is very stingy and behaved very badly, and this had forced the joint family to split in 1992.
Despite being neighbours, he and his family never visited them. “We never interfered in their family affairs and only after this incident came to light we are going to their house after several years,” he said.