A framed picture of Jesus Christ stares down at this dusty, dingy one-bedroom apartment in Bengaluru’s Austin Town. Cobwebs drape the fading blue walls; a torn purple cloth, perhaps once a garment belonging to one of the occupants, hangs listlessly from the chequered window. The living space is full of clutter – crowded with run-down furniture, a mattress, and household utensils, while the lone toilet in the apartment is clogged, with water overflowing onto the bathroom floor. A film of dust has carpeted the floor, and the entire house reeks of decay.
This was how the Bengaluru Police found the one-bedroom apartment in the BDA complex, when they walked in on Wednesday afternoon. The occupants of the house – a mother and her three daughters – were evicted by the police from their flat on Wednesday, after neighbours complained that the youngest daughter had been chained in the house for the past few years.
The Bengaluru police say that although the allegation of the girl being chained could not be verified, there were signs that the three women were under “severe depression”. The condition of the one-bedroom flat, which has no electricity connection, water supply, and sanitation facilities, were cited as reasons for the removal of the family to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS).
While the police have withheld the details of the women pending a detailed investigation into the case, they say that the family of five – parents and three daughters – had been living in the same apartment for the past 20 years. After the father and oldest daughter passed away a few years ago, the family severed ties with the outside world, claim the neighbours.
Hemant Kumar, the owner of the flat next door, says he had to move out of the house around two years ago, following the screams of the youngest daughter. He even claimed he had seen the girl chained a couple of times as well.
"After I left the house, an acquaintance of mine agreed to move in, but even he left after three months. We tried to talk to the family, but they abused us and even tried to attack us,” he alleges.
Police officers are, however, in a dilemma. “Once you take a look at the house, it gives you the impression that there is something wrong with the occupants of the house, but they were not dressed in rags,” says a police officer, who was a part of the eviction.
Police add that based on opinion from the experts at NIMHANS, further action will be taken. “The girl, who was allegedly being chained, was refusing to leave the family. We are hoping that counsellors will us give more information in the coming days,” the officer added
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