When this 50-year-old UK woman first reached India in 2010 on a spiritual vacation,little did she know that her stay in the country would turn out to be a long one. Reportedly suffering from paranoid schizophrenia,and with no money or state of mind to go back,she has been languishing in a Delhi hospital for two years. On August 14,she will finally return to London.
The woman walks to-and-fro in a straight line for hours in the semi-restrictive womans ward in Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS). She holds a steel glass half filled with water. It is hard to say whether she is happy or sad or even if she understands what is going on as she hardly gives any response, said a senior resident doctor in IHBAS.
The woman was picked up by Karawal Nagar Police on January 1,2011. A PCR call informed us of a mentally ill foreigner being in Pusta Madir. When we located her,she had no documents of identity on her. So we took her in custody and produced her before a magistrate on January 2,who directed that she be admitted to IHBAS, said the police officer who investigated her case.
Later we came to know that she was a British citizen and we contacted the British High Commission and told them about her whereabouts, he said.
The woman was admitted to IHBAS on January 3 last year. Her medical condition makes her hallucinate and she was also delusional. She moved around in geometrical patterns for hours. This is called ritualistic behaviour, said Dr Nimesh Desai,Director,IHBAS.
When she was brought she couldnt even take care of herself. But after treatment,she has improved a lot, he said.
The magistrate who ordered that she be admitted to IHBAS, did not give consent for her treatment. According to the British law,admission in a hospital and treatment are two different things unlike in India where admission to a hospital implies treatment too. So for a year she was kept in the hospital without treatment, Dr Desai said.
On February 13,2012,another magistrate gave permission for her involuntary treatment, he said.
However,this UK citizens problems did not there. Again,according to British law,the High Commission can assist her but cannot pay the cost of flight tickets for any national stranded in a foreign country.
Rhona Royle,Head of Consular Assistance Network Northern and Eastern India,British High Commission,said:,Once an individual has recovered sufficiently to take a flight home,we can seek a fit to fly certificate and arrange repatriation back to the UK if that is what the individual elects to do. But our policy does not allow us to pay for that persons travel.
The woman had no money to pay for her tickets. The High Commission contacted her sister but still there was no one to pay for her flight. So finally they contacted Virgin Atlantic who agreed to fly her to London free of cost once she was deemed fit to fly, Dr Desai said. She is not fit to travel and will probably take the flight back home on August 14. Virgin Atlantic is also providing a trainee medical attendant to fly with her. Her sister will receive her in London, Dr Desai said.