The residents of Telangana's Jagtial town, Vani Nagar, were shocked on Tuesday evening, when they saw a young woman crying in the middle of the street with her hands chained at her back. Geetha, a 25-year-old resident of the area, was reportedly illegally detained by her own family for over six months – a family that justified chaining her up because she was mentally ill.
Geetha had reportedly lost her father a few years ago and was living with her mother and three brothers – Chityala Narayana, Ramesh and Srinivas.
“She claimed to have done her graduation in arts and worked as a teacher in a private school for some time. She alleged that her sisters-in-law Manasa, Latha and Radha had been ill-treating her for the last few years and forcing her to do all the household work including bathing their children, washing their clothes etc. Even her brothers used to beat her regularly,” V Srinivas, a local resident, told Hindustan Times.
“When I tried to run away from home unable to bear their torture, they tied my hands with an iron chain behind my back and locked it,” the neighbours quoted her as saying.
Shockingly, the police has so far not filed a complaint in the case.
Once the inhuman incident came to light, the police questioned Geetha’s family, who reportedly justified their act claiming Geetha was mentally ill.
Speaking to TNM, Jagtial Town Police inspector Prakash said, “After locals complained of illegal detention, we enquired about the incident. The victim's brothers and parents convinced us that she had a mental disorder. To prove their claim, they showed us medical certificates."
"We sent the girl to hospital. Though, no case has been filed yet. We will soon register a case after checking with our superiors,” he added. Police are also mulling shifting the woman to a state home, until investigation is completed.
According to the Mental Health Care Act, 2016, it is illegal to chain a mentally ill person. ‘Physical restraint’ can only be used on the advice of a psychiatrist, and only to prevent ‘imminent and immediate harm to the person concerned or others.’
Not just individuals, even mental health institutions cannot put patients in chains.
“The restraint or seclusion shall not be used as a form of punishment or deterrent in any circumstance and the mental health establishment shall not use restraint or seclusion merely on the ground of shortage of staff in such establishment,” the Act says.