Friday, August 31, 2012

Death toll 228 at Asha Kiran since 2005, unabated

Dear Colleagues,

Those of you who work with person with multiple disabilities have seen them living ordinary life if given proper medication for epilepsy and care. However, there is utter chaos at Asha Kiran centre where no one want to take the blame for the deaths which are happening in the Govt. run institution. The centre says it is the severe mental retardation and epileptic fits that is leading to deaths while the court appointed committee and any person involved or with experience in caring for a person with multiple disabilities would say that it is unhygienic conditions, lack of medical facilities and mismanagement at the Asha Kiran which is resulting in avoidable deaths. Human life doesn't seem to have a value here.

I wanted to share a personal experience of one and half year back. One day on my way to work, I suddenly saw, a person with mental disability roaming on the ring road and then sitting under a flyover. I really got worried about his life and always thought some day some vehicle might strike him down and I thought of admitting him to the state run centres where he will be cared. Sooner, I realised the pathetic condition of the Centres that we are discussing here, I decided not to even think that way. I consulted several of my friends who expressed that this person may live a better, safe and longer life under a flyover than a State run Centre and that I should stop thinking of making efforts to have him shifted to a "safer" place like Asha Kiran.

Today after more than one and half year, when I continue to see him every day at the same place while on way to work, I feel how mistaken I was. He is at least happy & safe here and leading his life though with help from passer byes. I am sure if I had decided otherwise, I wouldn't see him alive!

Here is the news from Hindustan Times of 31st Aug 2012 giving you the update:

At Asha Kiran, 228 inmates have died since 2005


The Delhi government has admitted that 228 deaths have taken place at Asha Kiran, the Capital’s lone home for mentally challenged children and adults, since 2005. In an affidavit filed recently before the Delhi High Court hearing a PIL complaining of lack of medical care and shockingly  unhygienic conditions at the home in Rohini, the Delhi government said 59 inmates died in 2005-06, 28 in 2006-07, 34 in 2007-08, 37 in 2008-09, 46 in 2009-10, 11 in 2010-11 and 13 in 2011-July 2012.

During a hearing on August 8, the court had slammed the government for the inhuman manner in which the inmates were kept at the home and termed it the "worst kind of human rights violation". The court was perusing a report submitted by a court-appointed committee which inspected the premises of the welfare home.

Expressing shock at the revelation of 228 deaths, human rights activist and a member of the court-appointed committee Colin Gonsalves said: "This figure is high but the government feels it is low. They thought that by stating it on an affidavit it would save them before the court. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has repeatedly said deaths were taking place at the home due to negligence."

A bench of acting chief justice AK Sikri and justice RS Endlaw is to take a stand on the issue on Friday. The government denied the deaths were due to negligence and mismanagement. "Biological factors play a major role in high mortality rates among the mentally-challenged persons. A large number of inmates at Asha Kiran fall in the categories of severe and profound mental retardation with multiple disabilities and suffering from epileptic fits. Studies show that such types of individual keep very shortened life expectancy," the government said.

DP Bharal, deputy director with the department of social welfare, said in an affidavit: "From 59 deaths in 2005-2006, the same has come down to 13 in 2011-12. None of the deaths occurred due to negligence. The inmates who died were extreme cases of mental retardation or having chronic medical ailments."

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