Millennium Post

People with mental illness battle odds to get inked

Kolkata: An NGO and district administration joined hands to make it possible for persons with mental illness to cast their votes in Murshidabad on Monday. Sixty-four inmates of Berhampore Mental Hospital exercised their franchise at the polling station in Krishnanath School in Berhampore.

The NGO sought help from local administration to make the initiative a reality.

It claimed that this is for the first time inmates of a mental hospital were casting their votes.

A section of administrative officials were not sure how persons with mental illness would cast their vote.

The NGO members told the officials that these inmates should not be denied their basic rights. The NGO sought the intervention of the Election Commission for necessary permissions for the initiative, which was granted by the Commission.

The district administration took all necessary arrangements to help the inmates of the mental hospital take part in the electoral process. The NGO conducted an awareness programme at the hospital so that inmates get acquainted with the electoral process.

They stood in queue since the morning braving the hot and humid weather to cast their votes. A social worker was allowed by the commission to enter the polling booth to provide assistance to these inmates.

A member of the NGO said all the inmates of the mental hospital were not undergoing treatment and many of them had recovered but they failed to join the mainstream as their families had denied to accept them.

The inmates were happy after casting their votes. The inmates of the Pavlov Hospital, which provides medical care to people with mental illness in the city, may also cast their votes for the Lok Sabha elections this time.

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