PANJIM: A 20-year-old’s suicide in a child care institution has raised many queries. In fact, this is the second suicide of an inmate, in the same method, within a span of two years.
The youth was found hanging in his room when other inmates noticed and alerted the authorities. He succumbed en route to the hospital.
Police sources told Herald that the orphan boy’s death could expose several irregularities; however, a police report is awaited that will decide further course of action. “He was under depression and addicted to violent mobile games. His behaviour had changed after COVID-19 pandemic since studies switched over to online mode. A bright student was addicted to violent games. He would spend 14-16 hours on mobile or laptop to play these games,” said a source.
The careless attitude of the institution might be dragged into the ongoing investigation but a pending approval for admitting the youth (prior to his death) to Institute of Psychiatric and Human Behaviour and the deceased’s inquest carried out without the presence of Child Welfare Committee chairperson have become a talking point.
Sources said the young student, who was under the CWC care for over years, was undergoing treatment at IPHB. A fortnight prior to the boy taking this extreme step, he was even produced before the North Goa CWC with a request from the institution to admit him to the IPHB.
The approval was pending. Herald contacted the CWC that claimed it cannot overpower the existing law. “We cannot misuse and manipulate the law. We have to respect the advice from the professional and leave it to them. The boy was undergoing treatment and nowhere its doctors felt that his admission was necessary. There have been several applications of similar nature which were rejected by the IPHB previously,” said a concerned person from the committee.
Regarding the presence of CWC at the inquest, the committee once again refuted allegation of carelessness citing Juvenile Justice Act 2016 (Model Rules). “We go as per what the JJA 2016 Model Rules. We did get a call informing about the suicide and the doctors were insisting that one of us be there. But that is totally the role of the SDM. We cannot be overruling the SDM by our presence. We strictly follow the law and as per the JJA, only the SDM and other concerned people are empowered to be present during the inquest. There is no provision under the law that CWC members have to be there,” the CWC justified.
As per the rule, a child in need of care and protection is taken care by the CWC up to the age of 18 years. In exceptional situations, the CWC extends its powers till the child had attained 21 years. With the incident raising several questions, the role of the institution has also come under the radar for failing to monitor the child.
Herald contacted the Old Goa police, who said they are inquiring into the matter whilst the body is preserved in the Goa Medical College.