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."