Iti Shil after being discharged from hospital on February 18. Picture by Mithun Roy
Iti Shil spent over 18 months in a hospital because her brothers who allegedly wanted to take control of her house refused to take her home.
But help arrived from the district administration that ordered her siblings to “reinstate” her with “dignity” in her home.
Iti, 45 and an ICDS employee, was admitted to the Balurghat district hospital allegedly by her two brothers on August 31, 2012.
Tapas and Swapan claimed Iti was a mental patient.
The woman was initially kept in the female medical ward and later shifted to the mental ward of the hospital.
Hospital sources said Iti had been brought up by her elder sister at Patan village in Gangarampur after her parents died.
After the death of her elder sister, Iti started staying at the house alone and started working as an assistant at an ICDS centre nearby. She did not get married.
Gangarampur is 45km from here,
But soon, Tapas and Swapan, who stayed in the same locality, allegedly started torturing her.
They admitted her to the district hospital and even submitted a petition to the then superintendent with signatures of 30 people from the locality asking him to treat the woman.
Iti was under medication for around three-four months after which the hospital authorities asked her brothers to take her home. But they did not respond.
Sources said no one from Iti’s house visited her at the hospital during her stay.
Even after repeated requests to take the woman home, no one responded.
The woman often pleaded with relatives of other patients to get her discharged and often told them about her plight.
Few months back, when South Dinajpur district magistrate Tapas Chaudhuri went to the hospital for some work, he saw the woman yelling from the mental ward asking people to get her out of the hospital.
Chaudhuri asked deputy magistrate Maitaiyee Chakrabarty to carry out an enquiry and told the chief medical of health to submit a report to the administration about the woman’s health condition.
Meanwhile, the district administration received a letter from the state womens’ commission asking it to find out why a woman was kept in the hospital even after medication and treatment.
It is not clear how the commission got to know about Iti’s plight.
The hospital’s report to the administration stated that the woman’s condition was “manageable”.
After receiving the report, Chaudhuri asked the subdivisional administration of Gangarampur to take steps so that Iti could get back home.
Deputy magistrate Chakrabarty said: “The district magistrate had asked me to look into the matter as he was worried after he learnt that the woman had been spending her days at the mental ward of the hospital since August 2012. We took up the matter and asked the chief medical officer of health for a medical examination. The CMOH told us that the woman had schizophrenia, which was because of the rude behaviour she had to face at home. Her brothers plotted against her to grab her house. When the woman protested, they took her to the hospital. Even after a year, they refused to take her back.”
Yesterday, in the presence of the Gangarampur subdivisonal officer, Iti was taken home.
“Before the woman was sent off, we called one of her brothers and told him that if Iti faced any kind of torture in future, the administration would take strict action against the perpetrators,” Chakrabarty said.
The district magistrate said: “I had asked Maitrayee to look into the matter and do the needful. We are happy that the woman could go back to her house with dignity.”
District administration sources said Iti would get back her job and all outstanding salaries.
The woman has been working at an ICDS employess for almost 10 years.
She, however, has not been able to work ever since she was admitted to the hospital.
“Her leave would be treated as medical leave. We have told the district project officer of the ICDS to make the arrangements (to clear the dues and give her the job) soon,” said Chakrabarty.
Yesterday, doctors and nurses of the Balurghat district hospital bid farewell to Iti with garlands, sweets, money and sarees.
“I cannot forget those in the hospital for what they have done for me while I was there. I was like a child to them,” Iti said.
She gifted some poems and short stories that she had written during her stay in the ward to the hospital.
“We are happy that we could send her home. Her brothers brought her here. We had asked them to take the woman home after treatment. But they did not turn up even once,” said Asit Dewan, the superintendent of the district hospital.
Mamata Dey, a nurse of the ward where Iti stayed, said: “She could speak English and told us stories and poems.”