The state government's rehabilitation policy for the mentally challenged may have taken a beating as a shocking case has come to light where a 25-year-old mentally challenged girl has been bound by chains for the past 12 years.
Gurdeep Kaur, a resident of Budhlada, has been living in this condition due to acute poverty.
"When she was 13, Gurdeep fell from the rooftop and sustained severe injuries after which, she could not recover.
Her mental condition deteriorated and since I am a widow with financial crisis, I could not afford her treatment. We keep her chained as I am a housemaid and my only son is a daily wage labourer, so there is no one to keep an eye on her," said Guddi Kaur, the patient's mother.
She added, "We approached many senior officials, including MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal. However, apart from the mentally handicapped pension we receive from the government, there has been no help whatsoever."
The mother receives Rs 250 after a pension card was issued to her in 2011. She alleges that the pension is not delivered on time.
The neighbours echo the same sentiments. "For the past 10 years, no one from the district administration has come to even ask about the girl, though repeated requests have been made," said Munni Lal, the girl's landlord.
Guddi Kaur was also unaware of the widow pension she is entitled to. "I am not aware of any such scheme for widows like us. A social activist had informed us about the pension we receive for our daughter," she said.
The department of social security seems to have failed to implement the state policies to rehabilitate mentally-challenged people.
Harpal Singh, a senior officer in the social security department of the state government, claimed that three centres for mentally challenged people had been set up in three districts since last year but they were still not in operation.
"Last year, we set up three centres for the mentally ill in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Ropar, but the recruitment of staff is still in progress due to which the centres have not opened yet. Each centre can accommodate around 50 patients," he said.
It was also found that no survey of mentally- challenged people has been carried out in the district. "We have not carried out any survey. We don't have any special policy for any financial aid or treatment of mentally-challenged patients as there is only one psychiatrist in the whole district," said civil surgeon Binod Kumar Beri.
Deputy commissioner Pravin Kumar Thind took note of the case and assured that proper treatment would be provided to the patient.