Munni isn’t free - and no one knows why

March 10th, 2008 - 11:26 am ICT by admin  

Brij Khandelwal
Agra, March 10 (IANS) It is over eight years since Munni, 23, was confined to a government protection home here. She repeatedly pleads to be allowed her freedom. Officials do not know why she has been incarcerated. Munni was brought to the Agra women’s protection home July 21, 1999.

Records with the department suggest she has not committed any crime. The protection home in Agra is meant for those who are charged under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act.

Shubha Srivastava, deputy chief probation officer, wants Munni to be sent to the Kanpur Mahila Ashram, where she can live freely.

“She should either go to the mental hospital or be set free. Earlier too there was a girl called Punamma who was confined without any reason for several years. Luckily, she is now free. We do not know why Munni is confined here. It is for the higher authorities to explain the reasons,” the district probation officer told IANS.

“If she has committed a crime, send her to jail. If she is a mental patient, she should be in a mental hospital. Why have they confined her in the protection home?” asks human rights activists Netra Pal Singh and Naresh Kumar Paras.

On several occasions Munni expressed her desire to get married but to no avail. Officials have said that a suitable boy is hard to find.

In her application in June last year Munni wrote that she was willing to marry a man from any caste or community. Even then her application was not considered.

K.C. Gurnani, head of the psychiatry department at the medical college here, in his report said: “She appears to be having mild mental retardation. It is doubtful if she will be able to fulfil marital responsibilities.”

Megh Singh Yadav of the Agra human rights group said there are many children who suffer from mild mental retardation due to malnutrition and poverty. “If they are provided medical care and good diet, they can become absolutely normal.”

The district authorities have failed to find a solution to Munni’s case.

“Agra has a reputed mental hospital where she can be treated, if there is a need. Or else Munni should be allowed to go free and live life on her own terms. The matter should be investigated,” said Sudhir, an advocate.

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