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A TN home for persons with mental disabilities shut after video of inmate abuse surfaces

On May 20, residents of Kanyakumari who were scrolling through social media were shocked to see a video of a young male being beaten brutally by an older man. The victim was being hit by a thick wooden pole and despite the avalanche of beatings, he remained docile, allowing the attacker to continue the assault. Finally the victim falls to the floor in the video and that is when the man hitting him throws the pole away and walks off.  Amongst those who received this one minute video was S Kumutha, the District Child Protection Officer.

“The visual was really shocking and it was being circulated across the district,” says Kumutha to TNM. “Immediately we tried to identify the location and found that the victim was a 22-year-old from ‘Anbin Sigaram’, a home for children and adults with mental disabilities. While the victim may technically not be a minor, his mental age is taken into account for the admission there. The man who was beating him was Krishnamurthi, the owner of the home,” she adds.

‘Anbin Sigaram’ ironically means peak of affection.

And while a complaint was filed on May 21, the home was sealed by the tahsildar only on Monday. The owner who was absconding, was also arrested by the police and booked under sections 341( Punishment for wrongful restraint) and 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal code.

According to District Differently Abled Rehabilitation Officer Kathirvel, the home which is situated at NGO Colony in Nagercoil, has been in existence for close to four years now and admitted even individuals above 18 years.  It had a day school for mentally disabled people and also gave accommodation to individuals whose parents wanted them to stay back at the institution.

“We had given a complaint to the local police immediately. But the owner was absconding,” says Karthirvel.

District officials allege that soon after the video of the abuse went viral, Krishnamurthi sent all the inmates to their respective houses, locked the building and left. The video, they suspect, was shot by one of the neighbours.

“We learnt that he has been abusing the inmates for a long time now and the neighbours have been observing this. Finally one of them has shot this video,” says Kumutha. “The inmates who were verbal made it clear that this was not the first time one of them was getting beaten up,” she adds. 

Only in 2018, a mentally disabled child at a home in Aalangodu, Kanyakumari was rescued after she was confined to a room, tortured and burned by staffers.

Source: The News Minute