The Bombay High Court on Thursday said India was cutting a “sorry figure” after open threats were being issued to artists and others who voice their opinions, PTI reported. The bench was hearing petitions filed by family members of deceased rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, seeking court supervision on their murder probe.
The High Court made a reference to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavati, which has been at the centre of controversy after Rajput groups and others accused the director of straying from facts in the movie. The bench observed that while Bhansali has not been able to release his film, while actress Deepika Padukone is facing death threats.
“In this country, we have come to a situation where people cannot voice their opinions,” Justice Dharmadhikari said, according to PTI. “Every time a person says he or she wants to voice their opinion, somebody or a fringe group says they would not allow it. This does not augur well for the state.”
The judge said Dabholkar was killed in 2013 and Pansare was killed in 2015, however, the investigating agencies have not been able to arrest the main suspects.
“We cannot allow such serious matters to linger for years,” the bench said. “We cannot allow constitutional rights to be taken away. Enough damage has been caused already. Has any senior official from the two agencies bothered to find out why the probe is not getting any headway?”
The court ordered that a meeting be convened with the secretary of the state’s home department, director general of police, joint director of CBI with additional solicitor general Anil Singh and Ashok Mundargi.
The bench has now posted the matter for further hearing on December 21.
Dharmadhikari said states like Maharashtra and Karnataka were known for their “progressive and modern thinking”, PTI reported. “Maharashtra and Karnataka are known for social reformers and thinkers and with such incidents these states are cutting a sorry figure politically too,” he added.
Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India
Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.
Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.
According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.
On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.
During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Otherpatients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years agowas the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.
The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.
The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.
As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.