Bengal Horror: 46 women in a hell-hole; men’s under-garments to cover modesty
It’s a news which would shock the conscience of India but in all likelihood only temporarily—like it did in 2004.
The newly appointed judge of Calcutta High Court, Justice Rajesh Bindal paid a visit to Lilua Shelter, barely separated from Kolkata, and shed tears of blood while spending two-and-half hours at the shelter for women and children.
No less than 46 women, mostly minor, frail, most carrying festering wounds, were locked in a room, covering their modesty with men’s torn under-garments. The inmates are reported to be in the company of a skeleton, freed from flesh but still retained in bones in this horror house.
The news report in Bengali (see image below) mentions a building which is as fragile as its inmates, barely intact; its walls probably never painted; just a toilet and that too with an apology of a door; a pond within premises which has the garbage of years and mosquitoes which buzz in billions.
The honourable judge had paid a surprise visit, unaccompanied by police or pilots, at the behest of Supreme Court which has directed all High Courts to pay attention to how shelter houses are run in the country.
One has heard of shelter homes being an excuse to exploit defenceless women, transported in flesh trade, children used for labour, their organs up for sale and this report on Lilua has brought it to life, thanks to the visit by the honourable judge.
Justice Bindal, also chairman of the state legal services authority, was visibly shocked to see what the inmates ate and wore, never mind they are assured of five set of dresses and two nightwears by stipulation which are missing, that is if they were made available in the first place.
This is the same Lilua which had caught headlines in 2004 where inmates complained of being beaten black and blue; and then State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) chairman had said: “The Home is not safe for women.”
The visiting Justice Shyamal Sen, then, had chided the reporters for focussing their camera on him when they should’ve been highlighting the pathetic conditions of inmates. This time there is not even a line on Lilua in national dailies, a reflection on all those media houses of Kolkata and Delhi, with deep pockets but apparently a compromised conscience.
Only last week, BJP MP from Hooghly, Locket Chatterjee had met the state governor Jagdeep Dhankhar for “horrific” situation at Shimulia Anandamath Juvenile Home in Purulia. She had also pointed out similar correctional homes in West Bengal. The governor had then said that “serious concern was expressed at the violation of child rights and illegal activities.”
The embedded news report with this piece mentions the reaction of Ms Sashi Panja, herself a medical practitioner and presently minister of state for women, child development and social welfare in West Bengal government of Mamata Banerjee. She expressed little idea that Justice Bindal was visiting Lilua shelter, and one doesn’t know what her reaction is to the mention in report that Covid-19 and its precautions are non-existent here. There was a dettol bottle but empty and sanitizers are better not mentioned.
That such conditions exist for children and women in close proximity to Kolkata is a measure of ignorance and indifference of intelligentsia, media and of course administration. No less that this state is being run by a woman who has been at helm for a decade now with the slogan: Maa, Maati and Manush.
Meanwhile, shed a tear or two if you could at the helplessness and misery of unprotected child and women in the state of West Bengal.
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