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Orissa: Mentally ill girl locked for 20 years

Constrained by lack of funds, her parents locked her in a windowless small room when she was 15.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2006 14:01 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Clad in filthy rags, her eyes sunk into their sockets, she has been locked up for more than 20 years in a tiny, dark room by her parents after being diagnosed insane.

Swarnaprava Pandava, now 36, was once a very bright and talented student and has studied till Class 10 in Mahadeipatana village, located about 35 km from the coastal district headquarters of Kendrapada. She was an avid participant in school dramas too.

An illness she developed when she was 15 saw her turning very violent. She would assault villagers. Her parents took her to several physicians, but to no avail.

"We treated her in the nearby government hospital at Aul, and later took her to other hospitals. We got some black magicians to treat her too. However, nothing came of it. Doctors who treated her said they could not help her," her father Harekrusnha Pandav said.

Constrained by lack of funds, her parents finally locked her in a small room in the backyard of their house. Swarnaprava has been living there since. It has no window.

People who see her balk at her ghastly condition. She looks frightening. Her shrivelled skin hangs on her bone-thin body and her eyes stare blankly from hollowed out sockets.

She is given two meals a day through a small hole in the eight-feet-long four-feet-wide room. Her two brothers work outside the village.

"I would be happy if the administration helps us with the treatment," her father said.

According to Saroj Raj Singh, a senior lawyer and former president of the district lawyers' association, the local administration should rescue her and get her treated by experts.

First Published: Sep 25, 2006 13:53 IST