Another, 17-year-old mentally challenged inmate of the shelter home Sukhjit Ashram here died of food infection and hepatitis C at Government Medical College in Amritsar on Friday, taking the toll to three.
The deceased, Banti, was undergoing treatment with three other children at the local civil hospital but was shifted to Amritsar on Wednesday as his condition worsened. Deputy commissioner (DC) Jaskiran Singh confirmed the death. Health officials said that body will be shifted to Kapurthala on Friday evening and a post-mortem examination will be done too before the cremation.
Meanwhile, nothing has changed at the state-run Sukhjit Asjram except that, to segregate genders and acknowledging the staff crunch, the authorities have shifted 11 male inmates to a shelter for the mentally challenged in Rajpura. One male inmate is still ill, hence not been shifted, while the 18 female inmates remain at the centre.
It was on August 2 that two inmates were killed and 31 others were taken ill after they ate donated food. The then sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Mandeep Kaur, in her 11-page inquiry report , had raised questions over the functioning of the staff at the shelter home and had recommended their replacement, but no change has been made.
The SDM had also recommended the formation of a monitoring committee, proper cleanliness of the premises, ban on serving cooked food from outside, appointment of a full-time doctor, installation of security cameras, weekly inspection, and the maintenance of a visitors’ register. But no steps have been taken to implement these recommendations so far.
Punjab director of social security and women and child development Gurloveleen Singh had promised to change the staff immediately but nothing has happened so far.
A permanent superintended has also not taken charge at the ashram though the director had said that Kiratpreet Kaur of the Amritsar home for the mentally challenged would do that. The premises remain unclean, full of plants and bushes.
Officials said, on the condition of anonymity, that the district administration has asked child protection officials to look into the affairs of the ashram until a new superintendent takes charge.