In 1960’s Government of Assam built a high security prison in Mawlai Nongkwar Shillong for detention of the Naga Underground elements of Nagaland. This was an Assam type of house having a rectangular layout. The peripheries of this rectangular building was covered with dormitories with the middle portion open as courtyard. The doors of the dormitories opened to this courtyard. The windows and doors were of iron frame with thick iron bars which are bolted and locked from outside. The windows are also covered with iron bars and iron criss-cross netting. There were eight halls or dormitories and each halls/dormitories has two rows of iron beds spread for the prisoner’s uses. Every hall/ dormitory has an open type of toilets in one corner without partition without the supply of water and without other sanitary measures. There are no ventilations in any of the halls. The wall of the halls were build with thick mature pine and was double paneled. The whole setup was divided with G.I sheet partition in middle with a gate to separate male and female dormitories. There is only one entry and exit gate made of iron frame with thick iron bar. The dormitory acts like first line of fencing without external link.
The second line of fence was the high rise barbed wire surrounding the whole of the rectangular layout and another line of fence was high rise G.I sheet fence surrounding the whole of the barbed wire fencing of second line. There is also court room adjoining these houses for the trial of the these underground elements. This was a High Security Jail for underground subjects. This setup was infamously called Naga Jail.
Meghalaya got its state hood in 1972. Government of Assam handed over this setup to Government of Meghalaya and brought in the administrative control of Home (Jail) Department which was subsequently converted this setup a place to detain the people with Mental sickness without any infrastructural modification. This setup was christened “THE STATE HOME FOR MENTALLY ILL – PEOPLE” by shri Rustomji Chief Secretary Government of Meghalaya.
However the common man continued to refer this setup as “ NAGA JAIL” or “MENTAL JAIL”. In the letter and spirit it was jail purely under the control of District Jail Shillong and Administration was carried out in the procedure laid down in Assam Jail Manual. The Assam Jail Manual adopted by the Government of Meghalaya to run the Home (Jail) Department of the State. Consequently this setup was run by the Jailor of the Home (Jail) Department with his Subordinates like Asstt. Jailor, Head Warders, Warders and wardeness and under the administrative control of Superintendent District Jail Shillong. The Medical & Health Officer (M&HO) deputed in the District Jail Shillong used to visit this setup once a week basis and Psychiatrist of Civil Hospital Shillong also used to visit once a week or fortnightly. Only in 1980’s a regular post of Psychiatrist was created for the State Home for Mentally Ill People Mawlai Shillong. Dr. L.S. Kharlukhi was deputed by the Health Department to the State Home for Mentally Ill People Mawlai Shillong to look after the Mentally Sick people of the State Home for Mentally Ill People. The deputation of the Psychiatrist did not bring about any change and the Institute remain as ever in the Administrative control of Home (Jail) Department and the Mentally Sick People continued to be treated like prisoners rather than sick people.
In October 1992, Health & Family Welfare Department Government of Meghalaya transferred and deputed Dr. J.R. Rana Psychiatrist from Civil Hospital Shillong to the State Home for the Mentally Ill People Mawlai Shillong. He made several observations and remarks. The observation remarks of the Institution was submitted to both the Health Department & Home Jail Department of the State. His observation & remarks were: -
These observations with suggestions was submitted in April 199 to Home Jail Department & Health Department. Shri. S.K.Jain IAS Secretary Home (Jail) Department has agreed with that, the State Home for Mentally Ill People should rightfully be in the fold of Health Department rather than in the Home (Jail) Department. He asked Dr. J.R. Rana to get the view of Dr. F.Kharkongor DHS (MI) about the taking over of the State Home for Mentally Ill People Mawlai Shillong with whole budget manpower and building. DHS (MI) refused, the Secretary Home (Jail) Department has assured to bring the Institute under Health Department Administration. The matter remain silent.
In September 1997 the Indian Express a National Daily brought out the News Caption “In Meghalaya, Mental Hospital is a Jail”. Subsequent to the News item published a joint inspection of State Home for the Mentally Ill People Mawlai was done. The Team Consisted of following members: -
The team had inspected the institute and spot decision were taken for immediate implementation. The decisions were :-
The action was immediately taken and many corrective things were carried out. The things carried out were fitting of exhaust fans and making of ventilators in the wards, partition of the open type of toilet. The varanda was repair and the proper foot steps to the wards were constructed and the whole of the courtyard were cemented. The kitchen though not shifted outside yet repair were done. The iron barred door wards and isolation wards and the gates of the Institute were covered with wooden planks in lower half. The water storage system was constructed outside the ward. Two Medical Officers Dr. C. Syngkon from Civil Hospital Shillong & Dr. A.D. Roy and three Staff Nurses were posted in the Institute. Four Nos. of IV Grade were enrolled to look after the sanitary works. The whole wards were white washed.
The whole action take definitely brought about the positive changes in the Institute yet could not reach the hospital level of Standard. The primary reasons being the lack of hospital like infrastructure and decaying wooden structure and leaking roofs of the Institute,
In the month of September 1997 Shri Marak MCS, Inspector General of Prison handed over the charges of State Home for Psychiatric Care Mawlai Shillong to Smti. Dr. T. Laloo DHS (MI) and the Institute was Christened “Meghalaya Institute of Mental Health & Neurological Sciences (MIMHANS) Mawlai Shillong and brought under the administrative control of Health & Family Welfare Department.
In view of above shortcomings in the MIMHANS Mawlai Shilllong, the Government of Meghalaya decided to shift the MIMHANS to the Pasture Hills where other Health facilities are also available. The Government of Meghalaya had sanctioned Rs.1,72,55,400 (One Crores Seventy Two Lakh Fifty five Thousand four hundred) only. The works of construction could not be carried out due to blanket ban of falling of trees by Honorable Supreme Court as there were several trees at the planned site of construction.
Meanwhile there were two incidence of fire in MIMHANS Mawlai due to short circuit of electricity in October 1999 and again on April 2001. which devastated more than half of the building causing hardship to all. However the emergency work for the construction of Institute was carriedout and made the ransacked building of Institute habitable without going to any change in the infrastructure of the Institute
The work of new construction of MIMHANS Lawmali could commence only in 2001. Meanwhile after half completion of the institute the contractor stoped the work and approached the Guwhati High Court Guwhati and on the order of the Guwhati High Court the Schedule of Rate (SOR) of 2000-2001 had to be revised to Rs. 32,03,700 (Thirty Two Lakhs Three Thousand Seven Hundred) Only.
One of the component in the National Mental Health Programme of Government of India is “Up-Gradation of State Run Mental Hospital”. The scheme was submitted earmarking the estimated cost of Rs. 4.6 crore and it was lying pending with the Government of India unsanctioned since 2004-05.when Dr. Salhan Addl. Director General Health Services New Delhi was posted in NEIGRIHMS as Director. Dr. J.R. Rana has approached him and showed the dilapidated condition of MIMHANS Mawlai and equally dilapidated and incomplete construction of the New site of the building of MIMHANS Lawmali Shillong. He was Impressed upon the acute need of the fund for the completion of the MIMHANS Lawmali Shillong. He promised to help and he helped. Government of India sanctioned one time Grand-In- Aid of Rs. 3 Crores which caused the completion of the building, extension of the building, building of staff quarters and equipping and furnishing of the Institute.
By 15th May 2009, the shifting of the Institute from the old site at Mawlai to the New Site at Lawmali was completed.