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Woman confined in house for years

Published: 05th June 2013 08:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th June 2013 12:06 PM   |  A+A-

A 35-year-old woman was found lying naked on a dirty floor in her cement-sheeted house, allegedly confined to a room by her own family for several years. She appears physically and mentally stable and the reason for her confinement is not clear yet.

An altercation between the woman’s younger brother and some of the neighbourhood children playing on the road on Sunday led to the children accidentally spotting the woman, Amrita (name changed), in a dishevelled condition. She was reportedly screaming.

One of the neighbours, Vijayakumar, called the police control room, who alerted the Malleswaram police. A team, including sub-inspector Renuka, visited the family on Tuesday.

“Our team found her covered only by a single cloth, lying on the floor. She was not well looked after,’’ the police told Express.

Latha Ulaganathan, a neighbour who used to take tuitions from Amrita 10 years ago, told Express: “She was lying on the floor on an old dirty pillow, and had no clothes on. Her hair was unkempt and her nails were long. It looked like she had been in that condition for really long. I took a piece of cloth and covered her with it.”

Amrita is a BCom graduate from MES college, the 1998-99 batch. Her family — her parents, an elder and a younger brother — are all presently unemployed. Her father formerly owned livestock and made a living out of it. However, presently, the family is living on the rent they receive from property they own in and around Malleswaram, according to neighbours.

The police are questioning her parents, neighbours and relatives on why Amrita is in this condition. The doctors who are attending to her at NIMHANS have not yet questioned Amrita on the issue as her psychiatric assessment is still not complete.

The police said: “Amrita has no control at all over her limbs. That is the reason why we have sent her to NIMHANS. We need to find out what illness she is suffering from.’’

Amrita reportedly declined to take any medication for the last two years. The police said that she kept screaming for more food all the time, despite being fed regularly by the family members. “The family tried to keep her confined to ensure her screaming does not disturb the neighbours,” the police said.

Some relatives claimed that Amrita was restrained as she was mentally unstable. Others, however, attributed her situation to a relationship she had with someone her parents did not approve of.

Her father, who had accompanied the police team to the hospital, told Express: “This is false information. We have not kept her locked up. She was feeling weak since last week. She has been brought here for treatment.’’

DCP (West) S N Siddaramappa  said: “We are collecting information about the incident and conducting enquiries. If the girl recovers and files a complaint stating that she underwent confinement and bad treatment, we will take legal action,” he said. However, the police have not received any formal complaint regarding the matter from the woman or her relatives.

Health Minister U T Khader, who visited her house along with a team of officials from the Health Department, said: “For now, our priority is to ensure that the woman gets proper treatment. We will try to find out the reason and take appropriate action.’’

Dr V L Satish, Medical Superintendent at NIMHANS, said that although the woman was not in a traumatised or mentally unstable state, she showed signs of suffering from chronic, long-standing problems. “She shows symptoms of arthritis, but she is stable and conscious and is responding well to questions,” Dr Satish said.

Psychiatrists are assessing her exact condition and it will take time to arrive at a proper diagnosis and case history,” Dr V L Satish, NIMHANS Medical Superintendent said.

Women and Child Development Minister Umashree told Express: ‘’I have deputed director of women and child development department to monitor the woman’s condition and look into the case.”

Doctors will monitor her for three days and give her a report, she added.

Department of Women and Child Development director Gurneet Tej said, “If she decides to stay alone or away from her parents, the department will take care of her and provide her whatever is required for her well-being,” he added.

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