Millennium Post

54 mental hospital patients to get inked on May 19

Kolkata: Fifty-four patients of Pavlov Hospital, who have recovered from mental illness, but couldn't reunite with their families due the social stigma associated with people with mental disorders, will cast their votes for the first time in the last phase of Lok Sabha elections.

Relentless efforts by the authorities of Pavlov Hospital, other hospitals treating people with mental illness in districts and an NGO helped to make the initiative a reality.

Authorities of Pavlov Hospital and the NGO officials told the Election Commission that some patients in various mental hospitals have been not been taken back by their families despite the fact that they are completely fit. The NGO officials convinced the Commission that such patients should not be deprived from exercising the franchise as they have recovered from illness.

Pavlov Hospital authorities sought the intervention of the EC for necessary permissions for the initiative, which was eventually granted by the Commission. The Election Commission has taken all necessary steps to help the patients of the mental hospital take part in the electoral process. Fifty-four inmates have already received their Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) and they will cast their votes on May 19, the day Kolkata North Constituency goes to polls. The NGO is conducting an awareness programme at the hospital. A senior official of the NGO said there are around 650 patients in the Pavlov hospital and 40 percent of the patients can be sent back home. A new law will soon be promulgated so that these patients can return to their families and those with acute mental illness will stay in the hospital for treatment. The patients, who received the EPICs, are all mentally fit.

Sixty-four inmates of Berhampore Mental Hospital exercised their franchise at the polling station in Krishnanath School in Berhampore on April 29. The NGO played an important role in convincing the local administration and eventually making the initiative a reality.

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