Three siblings in the age group of 34 to 42 years were rescued from a house at posh Kisanpara Chowk locality in Rajkot where they had locked themselves up for nearly a decade after their mother’s death.
A team of volunteers, led by Jalpa Patel of Saathi Seva Group, an association working for people living on the streets, broke open the door of the room Sunday after the siblings — two brothers and a sister — stopped responding to the calls of their father, Navin Mehta.
According to the volunteers, one of the brothers was found lying on the floor in a heap of papers and rags and another standing amid a garbage pile when they entered the room. Their sister was the only person in the room with clothes on. Mehta, who was present during the ‘rescue’ drive, identified his sons Ambrish and Bhavesh and daughter Meghna.
“The siblings had locked themselves in the room after their mother died around eight to nine years ago. Despite being repeatedly persuaded to come out, they remained locked in the room,” Mehta (80), a retired government servant, said. His wife was ill since 1986.
According to the Saathi Seva Group volunteers both Ambrish (42) and Megha (39) looked emaciated when they were rescued, while Bhavesh seemed to be in a better physical condition. “Megha claimed she was alright but kept on asking for food every now and then. She seemed to be disoriented. Bhavesh wasn’t talking yesterday when we managed to break into their room. However, on Monday, he started speaking in limited sentences,” Patel said.
Mehta said Ambrish had been rendered immobile after he had a fall some time back. While his eldest son had BA and LLB degrees, Bhavesh was an economics graduate and Meghna a postgraduate in psychology, he added.
The octogenarian, who draws Rs 34,000 monthly pension, claimed his sister, who lives in another locality of the city used to cook meals for the family which he would then deliver in tiffin boxes to his three children. “Mehta said he would leave the food outside the door of the room and leave. He also claimed that he lived in the same house which has at least five rooms. However, we didn’t find any of his personal belongings anywhere in the house. All that we found were papers, rags, and dirt in all the rooms,” Patel told The Indian Express.
After rescuing the siblings, the volunteers shaved their long hairs, gave them baths, and also dressed them in new clothes. “On Monday, the three siblings were shifted to the residence of Mehta’s sister on Kalavad Road and were consulting a doctor. A team from the social welfare department also visited them on Sunday evening,” Patel added.
Mehul Goswami, the social defence officer (SDO) of Rajkot district, confirmed that a team had visited Mehta’s house around 9.30 pm Sunday and Ambrish was taken to a hospital on Monday.
“After we learnt about the incident, our team reached Mehta’s home and offered assistance in ensuring the wellbeing of his children. Mehta told us that he would shift his children to his sister’s home and did accordingly. On Monday morning, our team took Ambrish to a private hospital as he had suffered injury in his leg after falling off his bed some time back. The doctor has prescribed medicines and he will have to visit the hospital again in two days for scans. We are also counselling Bhavesh and Meghna, and, if required, will assist them to get medical treatment,” Goswami said., adding Mehta had retired from government service as employment officer.
The officer said Mehta had not locked up his children in the room. “The house is spacious and it doesn’t appear that the father had kept them confined. But it does look like they had remained confined in that space for a long time and developed schizophrenia,” Goswami said. He added Ambrish looked to be in the early 40s, Meghna in late 30s and Bhavesh around 34 to 35 years old.
Anirudh Nakum, a local journalist who claimed Bhavesh was his childhood friend, meanwhile, claimed the three siblings may have been locked in the room for more than a decade. “Bhavesh was in love with the daughter of another government servant but they broke-up in 1999-2000. Bhavesh couldn’t cope with it mentally. Meghna was quite brilliant and seemed to be taking care of the family. However, friends started losing contact with Bhavesh and the family from 2001 onward as Ambrish apparently lost mental balance and would throw whatever he could grab at visitors. I had seen him chained in the house,” he said.
Nakum said he last met Bhavesh in 2001. “Friends would talk about Bhavesh in the subsequent few years. But looking at the condition of their house from outside, we were under the impression that they had left the town,” he added.
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