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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Woman 'locked away for 25 years'
By Sandeep Sahu
BBC News, Bhubaneswar

Annapurna Sahu
Annapurna Sahu is recovering in hospital
A 43-year-old Indian woman has been rescued after officials said she had been locked up by her family in a single room for more than 25 years.

Her family members in the eastern Indian state of Orissa said she was mentally ill and had to be kept apart because of her "wild behaviour".

Annapurna Sahu was confined in an abandoned outhouse - only a few feet high and without proper flooring.

The family said she was not mistreated and was given food and water regularly.

Segregated

Eyewitnesses present during the rescue operation in the town of Dhenkanal, 100km (62 miles) from state capital, Bhubaneswar, said Ms Sahu was living in inhumane conditions.

She was reportedly naked when she was found.

Outhouse in Orissa
The outhouse was only a few feet high

Her brother, Ganeswar Sahu, said she had to be segregated from the rest of the family after she started abusing others.

She had dug up the floor of her small room, her mother, Yashoda Sahu, said.

Following her rescue, Annapurna Sahu was taken to a hospital in Dhenkanal.

Surendra Mohanty, the doctor treating her, said she had shown signs of improvement since she was admitted. She would be given a detailed examination of her mental state on Saturday, the doctor said.

District magistrate, Usha Padhi, said Ms Sahu would later be shifted to a rehabilitation home.

The cost of her treatment would be paid by the district unit of the Red Cross, she said.

A counsellor from an NGO attending Ms Sahu said she showed no sign of mental illness, though she did appear weak and emaciated.

Pallavi Nanda, of the Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati Service Mission, said Ms Sahu was taking food and was responding to questions normally.



SEE ALSO:
Goa's radical mental health institute
10 Jul 03 |  South Asia
Indian mental homes face closure
08 Aug 01 |  South Asia
Plight of India's mentally ill
11 Aug 01 |  From Our Own Correspondent



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