For easing the burden on Haryana's only Nari Niketan here, the state government plans to open more protection centres for women.
Cabinet minister for women and child development Kavita Jain, who on Thursday made a surprise visit to Nari Niketan and a children's home at Madhuban in Karnal, said she was not satisfied with the living conditions of the inmates.
The minister had kept her visit secret from the district officials, and called not even the public relations team on landing at the facility.
The district administrations and judicial authorities send homeless women and destitute girls from across the state to this shelter, which is the only government-run home in Karnal. It came into controversy when several inmates escaped in the past three years and some even attempted suicide on the high-security premises.
After her visit on Thursday, Sonepat legislator Jain, 37, told HT over telephone that the Nari Niketan inmates needed urgent psychological counselling. The minister was satisfied with the living space but not with hygiene and the programmes for recreation and rehabilitation.
"I found on interacting with the inmates that they needed extra care and emotional support. The women living in Nari Niketan are not criminals, and the ministry would call experts to counsel them to help them lead a normal life," she said.
She said that owing to the staff shortage, the department also couldn't handle so many women with different temperaments. "The home has put up a girl of 14 with many mentally challenged inmates," the minister said. For understanding the problems of her ministry, she has started visiting various protection homes in the state.
"I won't reveal my travelling plans in advance to the officials to have the true picture of the facilities that the state government supports," said Jain.
The minister was open to pushing the matter of opening more centres for destitute women and children across the state. "The state government is sensitive to their issues. Their rights will be protected even at the protection homes," Jain further said.
About the case where women were abused sexually at the state-funded Apna Ghar protection home in Rohtak, she said it had not been forgotten.
"Our government won't allow the repeat of the unfortunate incident. I call upon private organisations and citizens to support our social schemes," said the minister.