Monitoring the rehab centres MHRC on track

The Manipur Human Rights Commission has done its job. Now it is left to be seen what course of action the State Government particularly the Social Welfare Depart- ment takes up to plug the loopholes. It was on March 17 that a two-man team from the Rights Commission led by its Chairperson Justice UB Saha inspected two rehabilitation centres at Thoubal district and found a number of lapses. Obviously the lapses must have been calculated according to the guidelines set by the State Social Welfare Depart- ment and such guidelines cannot come within the understanding of confidential or classified information of the Government. It is something which must be out in the public domain more so for the benefits of all those opening and running rehabilitation centres across Manipur. Rehabilitation centre, as a term, is not something foreign or alien to the people of Manipur, with drug or psycho-active substance abuse or to use the politically correct term use, alcoholism and other forms of substance dependency, having gained currency in the last many decades. The toll that drug use and alcoholism has taken has been heavy and it is to these centres many families, particularly the elders turn to, to set right their children or youngsters who may have fallen into the clutches of these psycho-active substances. It was with a reason why the Social Welfare Department issued a series of guidelines for rehab centres to follow, all with the stated objective of ensuring that these centres respect the rights of the inmates and follow a certain set of parameters in housing and treating those dependent on psycho-active substance. The question is how many of the rehab centres opened and operating in Manipur actually conform to the standard protocol laid down by the Social Welfare Department ? If the initial findings of the MHRC, while inspecting two such rehab centres is any indication, the norms and regulations laid down are being violated with impunity with the said centres found not even entering the details of the inmates admitted in 2024. This is a cause of concern, especially in the backdrop of the fact that an inmate passed away after being subjected to intense physical assault inside a rehab centre some years back. Earlier a certain rehab centre at Churachandpur had gained notoriety for keeping the inmates under chain. One wonders why some rehab centres are not keen to stick to the guidelines set down by the Social Welfare Department and if they are not in a position to adhere to the dos laid down, then what is stopping the Government from acting and closing down such centres ?
The very name, rehabilitation centre should say it all. It is a centre to rehabilitate those dependent on drugs or any other intoxicating stuffs and certainly such centres should not and cannot be reduced to the understanding of an isolation centre or a detention centre where rough looking men trained to crack down hard on the inmates rule the roost. Amid the cause of concern, what is heartening is the fact that the Manipur Human Rights Commission has made it clear that it is intent on reforming the ills. It is in line with this that just one day after the inspection drive, the MHRC wrote to the DGP of the State police and the Social Welfare Department to monitor the functioning of all rehabilitation centres. One hopes there are more follow up actions on this and it would help if reports from the police and the Social Welfare Department can be made public. The understanding of why there are rehabilitation centres should be clear to all. Stern action ought to be taken up if and when any of these centres are found violating the guidelines issued by the competent authority. One also hopes that the MHRC takes up from the admission of some of the inmates that they were forcefully admitted to the rehab centre ! Who are the ‘do gooders’ ? Certainly not the way in which drug dependent persons should be put on the way to recovery. Drug dependent individuals are part of society and it is only right that the place set up to  help them recover function under the established norms and guidelines. Is the Government doing enough that it should nudge the MHRC to inspect and recommend that these centres be monitored ? This very question should say so many things !