Mixed results for Kerala's bid to return old, unsound people 'exiled' on trains

The government has formed a scheme called “Prathyasa” to take these persons to their native places. Representative image/File Photo.

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala has of late become the go-to place to banish mentally challenged old persons unwanted by their near and dear ones.

A worrying trend of more and more unsound people arriving in Kerala on trains, especially those originating from northern parts of the country, has been observed by the police and social welfare department.

In the past two years, 270 mentally challenged persons were sent to Kerala apparently by placing them on trains headed to the State.
The abandoned end up in Kerala because the final destination of several trains from North India are stations in Kerala.
Often, the police take such people to mental health centres which are already strained with many inmates. Earlier, they were shifted to the government’s 6 psycho-social rehabilitation centres.

After these centres were filled to their capacity, the unsound persons are now being sent to 41 establishments functioning with government grants.
The government has formed a scheme called “Prathyasa” to take these persons to their native places. After gleaning information from these persons, letters are sent to the Chief Secretaries and the Secretary to the Department of Social Justice in the States concerned. But there is no response from them most of the time.
Even though 40 persons in 2020 and 42 in 2021 were taken to their native States after providing them treatment, some of the families refused to take them in. Those who were not accepted by their families were entrusted to shelter homes in those States.
Five people had to be brought back as the addresses, including districts, given by the sheltered persons were found incorrect.

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