The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday sought details from the Central government on the arrangements made for the mentally challenged people roaming on the streets amid the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.
The commission has asked the Union Home Ministry to inform within two weeks about the details of steps taken to address the issue raised in the complaint.Taking cognizance of a complaint regarding the alleged violation of human rights of the mentally ill people, the NHRC asked the states and Union Territories to ensure that the mentally challenged persons don't contract the virus.
The commission further asked the authorities to ensure that they are provided with proper counselling on necessary precautions against the deadly virus, along with basic facilities such as food, shelter, medical care, etc.
Acknowledging the efforts of the Central and the state governments in combating the spread of the disease and ensuring the supply of food and healthcare facilities for the citizens, NHRC said that some vulnerable sections of the society require specific attention.
"Therefore, in this time of crisis, it becomes the duty of the state to ensure food, shelter and social security for the people belonging to such vulnerable classes. This becomes more necessary because not only the people suffering from mental illness may be deprived of basic amenities, but also become an easy carrier of the deadly virus posing life threat to many," NHRC said.
NHRC forwarded the complaint to the Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking a response in the matter. According to the complaint, a large number of people suffering from various mental disorders are roaming on the streets and are dependent for food, shelter and other kinds of help from temples, gurudwaras and other charitable organisations.
But, the administration has not issued any specific guidelines for these people and no arrangements for their survival during this period of crisis, the complaint said.