A 55-year-old mentally challenged woman, who had gone missing from her native place in West Bengal nearly 15 years ago, has been reunited with her family following efforts made by the Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority, officials said.
It was an emotional homecoming for Laxmi Parui as her brother and other family members welcomed her at their home in Shibpur village in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal on Sunday, officials said.
Parui, who was mentally unsound, got separated from her family around 15 years back and somehow reached Chhattisgarh, the state legal services authority's member secretary Siddharth Agrawal said on Monday.
"In April 2017, a police constable in Chhattisgarh's Korba district admitted the woman, who was then identified as Parvati Bai, to Sendri Mental Hospital in neighbouring Bilaspur district and since then she was undergoing treatment there," he said.
In June this year, the Chhattisgarh State Legal Services Authority (CGSLSA) received a letter from the Sendri hospital that the woman has recovered from her illness and disclosed that she is a resident of South 24 Praganas district in West Bengal, he said.
The hospital authorities also requested to trace her family, the official said.
On the direction of Chhattisgarh High Court Chief Justice P R Ramchandra Menon, who is the patron-in-chief of CGSLSA, and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra, the executive chairman of CGSLSA, efforts were made to find her family.
Mr Agrawal said the CGSLSA wrote to the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) of West Bengal about this and it was later found the woman''s actual name was Laxmi Parui, who was mentally challenged and had gone missing from her home around 15 years back, Agrawal said.
Based on photographs received from the West Bengal authorities, her identity was duly established, he said.
On Saturday evening, the woman, accompanied by two women constables of Government Railway Police, was sent by train to Kolkata. They reached there on Sunday morning and later the woman was reunited with her family, he said.
West Bengal SLSA's member secretary Durga Khaitan told PTI over phone that based on the information provided by CGSLSA, the district legal services authority of South-24 Parganas tried to trace the woman''s family.
In the process, the authorities found a man, Gopal Parui, who said his sister had gone missing when he was very young. Later, the woman''s photographs were exchanged between the legal services authorities of the two states and her identity was confirmed, she said.
"According to her family, the woman was married and had a daughter, but was later abandoned by her husband. She subsequently came back to her fathers place with her daughter and one day she went missing," Mr Khaitan said.
"Everyone in her family was happy to see her again, especially her daughter, who is now married, and even we felt satisfied," she said.
Meanwhile, Justice Sanjib Banerjee, executive chairman of SLSA, West Bengal, has ordered South 24 Parganas district authorities to provide free ration to the woman for her entire life, she said.