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House of Horrors

Dr Nitin Pandey

Life in Dehra Dun’s Nari Niketan is worse than a nightmare.

Dr Nitin Pandey


19 year old Pooja (fictitious name) ran away with someone she loved, the police caught up with her and brought her back. Since she refused to go home, she was sent to Nari Niketan, waiting for the court’s verdict. Little did Pooja realize that punishment for her would start even before the first hearing in the court.

Nari Niketan Dehra Dun
Nari Niketan Dehra Dun

Living in a building meant for destitute and helpless women was no easy job. She shared her bed with two and sometimes even three ladies. With facilities for accommodating 30 persons, 92 women are detained in Nari Niketan out of which 72 were mad, some of them even aggressive. As if living with 72 mad women, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week was not punishment enough, Pooja was made to clean after these women would defecate or vomit anywhere, since there are no simply no sweepers in the Nari Niketan. The morning duty caretaker, who also doubles up as a sweeper, goes off at 2.00 pm, so the “non-mad” inmates of the niketan are made to do everything. For a pampered girl, whose only fault was falling in love, the wait for punishment for running away, was worse than the possible punishment itself. Add to this, the “generous” government grant for her, Rs 33/- per day for all her meals, her clothes & her toiletries and one can imagine her plight.

Nari Niketan in Dehra Dun is a textbook picture of all what should not be done in any women’s shelter. Mixing psychiatric patients with normal persons, not only creates immense psychological pressure on normal persons, but also for the staff manning the institute. No wonder that two staffers have gone into medical depression, requiring medication, since the practise of housing such patients started two years ago, apparently due to lack of space in the Mental Asylum in Selaqui. Since there is only one nurse on the roll, and that too most of the time she has to spend in Doon Hospital, with admitted inmates, handling psychiatric patients is left to the other staff and normal inmates of the institution. Even the medications are being given to them by non-medical personnel, which is an unacceptable practise in any civilized society. Aggressive behaviour, howling, head banging, defecating at odd places by such patients creates enormous stress for other inmates. To top it all, the caretaker in the institute, is on daily wages and has not been paid a penny for the past nine months.

It is absolutely unbelievable how life can be behind the placid walls of Nari Niketan, the government it seems has no concerns for the horror those detained there go through. Apparently even the Governor’s request, two years ago, for separating the psychiatric patients from normal detainees has gone unheeded. Are we, as citizens of this city, not responsible for the way we treat those girls and women who are helpless and in trouble? Can we let such inhumane practises go unchecked, simply because those who go through this torture are voiceless and far from media highlight? Is this not a shame for our city and our State? Please write a letter to the editor of Garhwal post (garhwalpost@gmail.com) if you care.

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From: The photos look fatanstic give a great image of the park. May never get to see it myself but thanks for the photos and post giving an insight.
The photos look fatanstic give a great image of the park. May never get to see it myself but thanks for the photos and post giving an insight.

From: shivanjana nigam
Hi, This is in regards to request you to share your site's high resolution press images of Dalhousie as we wish to carry an article on it. We would be obliged to pass on the credits for the images. Im, photo Editor of Femina Magazine, Times Of India. Please do let me know if you are interested. Thanks

From: Sandeep singh
Yes,me and my beloved wife who has been detained in karnal nari niketan has tasted the mercilessness and inhumanity of court,judges,greedy lawyers,heartless policemanship and the whole system who as usually stands against those who just truthfully love and beleive in liberty ,equallty.as it happens we have all our documents complete and genuine with respected record too but the judge pays no attention to us and our documents .My wife is major and she is now 18 yrs 1 month and 11 days and we have already attended two dates of hearing but judge doesnt listen us,interesting is this that my wife's parents dont come to the court and no lawyer is represeting them yet the judge just gave us a date of two monthes.I am not allowed to meet her and her family has abondened her.Now who is there for that poor and innocent girl and what was her fault,to be in love with and what was my fault to trust in court and law .All this bullshit . On one date during trail she cried,"In nari niketan manipulation of girls happens and they have no hole to save themselves .If they protest ,they are denied of food and other accommodatios and beaten too,they should be hanged rather than detaining in such a hell". It was her words in the court. Is there any justice for the love-birds like us,if is plz help us otherwise I would suggest who love,"Go and sleep on a railway track with ur soulmate but never mistake to go a court because it gives u a separation u will be in a jail and she will be at a place worse than hell.

Sir,the article clearly highlights the plight of women like Pooja who undergo such physical and mental torture. I believe it is even more discomforting for "abnormal" if at all to call them, patients since they need more care and attention. Wonder when the government would take cognizance of this issue.