Branded beggars by turn of fate

Rehabilitation centre has some inmates who never begged

Branded beggars by turn of fate

One of the inmates at the District Rehabilitation Centre in Mysore. DH photo by Prashant H GThough the condition of the District Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) at Jyothingar is not as worse as crowded Kamakshipalya colony and is infact far better than the status there, lack of proper healthcare has put the men and women here on risk of developing infections and diseases.

The inmates here live in dingy rooms and halls. There are about 223 inmates, including 62 women living in this Centre, a majority of them mentally unstable or those rejected by their families. The number of inmates in the DRC has not exceeded the original capacity of the sub-centre. But, there is no medical officer in the campus to attend to their health needs. The DRC is also handicapped with lack of staff. About seven different posts are lying vacant in the Centre which caters to five districts - Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Chamarajanagar and Madikere. It has six staff members, including the Superintendent.

The inmates here live in a well-maintained farm house, where vegetables and fruits are grown in the in-house garden. The sad part is that besides attending to work on the field, the inmates are also supposed to do the cleaning works, including the maintaining sanitation in the toilets and bathrooms.

Chandrappa Gokak, Superintendent of DRC, who is currently deputed at Beggars’ colony in Bangalore to manage the crisis told Deccan Herald that despite absence of a medical officer in the campus, every ailing inmate is rushed immediately to the nearest PHC centre. Also, those who need daily check-up are also referred regularly to the doctor, he says.

He said the Government has approved to fill about 100 posts. The vacant posts in DRC Mysore will also be filled soon, he said.  Another worrying part is that a few inmates who are mentally sound and have family of their own are living here. Subbanna, who is 79 years old now sold sweets in the court campus. “I am not mentally unstable person or a beggar. I have my family in Bamboo Bazaar. Last December, I fell unconscious on Irwin road. A few people took me and dumped me here. I don’t want to live here,” he says.

Similar is the case of a Selvaraj from Madikeri. According to him he worked as cleaner and coolie for sometime. The people from DRC bundled him into a van when he was working on a swing during Madikeri dasara. “It was a horror when I came here. The mentally unsound inmates beat me up badly. I am away from my family since eight months,” said Selvaraj. While, Rajanna of Kodagu was picked up from 100 ft road when he visited his relative’s house. He has found solace due to family problems at DRC and is not willing to move out.

Among the women, Geetha, a Seva Dal activist also complains that she is neither a beggar nor mad. But, authorities have forced her here, she says. Nagamma, from Kushalnagar who is twilight of her life complains the same. “I was sipping a cup of tea outside Ashwini hospital in Kushalnagar when some men bundled me and put me here.
 I have two daughters and a son. They must be searching for me. They are illiterate and are unaware of places. How will they search for me in this big world,” she asks in tears, sending out a clear message that authorities need to check and properly verify the background of people they have dumped here.

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