Officials of a state-run correctional home in Birbhum are living under “fear” that “something terrible” may befall one of its inmates – a 25-year-old Ugandan woman whom the police found loitering at the Sainthia railway station without any travel documents in March earlier this year.
Namutebi Racheal, who first arrived in Mumbai “on some business” from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, has been at the Sudhar Home in Purandarpur with no memory of how she reached Bengal. Her deteriorating health condition has now forced officials to shift her to Suri sub-divisional hospital.
“The woman suffers from acute malnutrition and often turns violent. We cannot meet her demands for better food with the limited resources we have,” said Sujit Paul, a coordinator at the correctional home. Paul said that the fund allocated to run these social welfare homes comes to a meagre Rs 16.50 per inmate per day.
Indicating that there could be an “inordinate delay” in the woman being repatriated, Paul said: “We have seen cases where repatriation can take from six to eight months. If the same delay happens in this woman’s case, it might end in some disaster,” Paul said, as he spoke about the Ugandan national’s deteriorating health. Namutebi has lost over 20 kgs in weight since she was brought to the correctional home on the orders of the Rampurhat court of SDJM, he said.
Paul also expressed surprise that the woman’s case was not dealt with under the Foreigners Act, which would have facilitated her repatriation. “Our home is not equipped to shelter such people. Here we mostly take care of tribal women in distress,” he said.
The police, meanwhile, said some officials from the Ugandan embassy in Delhi had visited the woman recently and that her repatriation process is under way.