Raffi* had been admitted at the government Mental Health Care Centre on 29 October 2018 after he was rescued.

How a Kerala mental health centre treated a Bangladeshi man and helped him return home
Health Human Interest Friday, June 14, 2019 - 12:37

Raffi* appears not to have come to terms with the fact that he will finally be returning home. Nearly eight months after he was found in Alappuzha, the Bangladeshi native will be escorted by police personnel to his homeland. Unfamiliar with any language except Bangla, a smile appears on Raffi's face when he sees a guard who knows his mother tongue.

Raffi had been admitted at the Government Mental Health Care Centre on 29 October 2018 after he was rescued by fishermen in Alappuzha district. The fishermen tried to rescue him when he was about to kill himself by jumping into the sea. Following this, he was presented before the Judicial First Class Magistrate in Alappuzha and the court ordered him to be admitted at the Mental Health Centre, Peroorkada, Thiruvananthapuram.

“What he said about the incident is that he was trying to go to Bangladesh by making a raft using bottles. On admission at the Centre, he was diagnosed with psychosis. He must have been in stress, which aggravated his condition, prompting him to attempt to kill himself. Although there was a sudden improvement in his condition, without being able to communicate with him as he didn’t know any language but Bangla, we found it tough,” Dr Arun, the psychiatrist who had taken care of Raffi's treatment, told TNM.

A month later, the hospital brought an interpreter who speaks Bangla. Meeting someone speaking his own language had a huge impact on Raffi, which helped the doctors as well in providing him treatment.

“His condition improved in two to three months. His condition is something that can be totally cured. In the weeks that followed, we began taking legal steps to send him back to his family. The officials from Bangladesh High Commissionerate in Delhi visited him and verified the facts,” Dr Arun said.

As per the information given by Raffi, he is 25 years old and is a fisherman. But how he came to Alappuzha still remains a mystery and hence the police have not registered any case.

Bangladesh issued temporary travel documents to Raffi in March this year for effecting his deportation as per the order of the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Alappuzha. The procedures for sending him back was delayed due to the Lok Sabha polls.

He is permitted, as per the documents, to leave the country through Haridaspur check post, Bengal, where he will be handed over to the Border Security Force personnel. Three police personnel from Alappuzha came to the Mental Health Centre to escort him to Bengal in train.

“The coordination between various departments worked so well that it made his early discharge from this hospital possible,” Dr Sagar, the superintendent of Mental Health Centre, told TNM. 

(*Name changed)