The two sisters who were found starving in their house at Rohini here on Saturday had been leading the life of a recluse along with their elderly mother for the past several years now. They had confined themselves within the four walls of the house.

“Their mother Nirmala Gupta rarely interacted with the neighbours. Her elder daughter Mamata was married off about 14 years ago. However, when she went into a depression after her chain was snatched in the nearby market and her relations with her in-laws got strained, she started living with her mother. It was here that her son was born. Both the sisters were good students. While Mamata continued her studies till Class XII, the younger sister dropped out after Class X,” said a neighbour, Preeti.

The neighbours claimed that first Mamata went into a depression. This had an adverse impact on Neerja and she also started largely keeping to herself.

The financial condition of the family deteriorated after Ms. Gupta’s husband Rajendra Gupta died. “His three brothers live with their families in nearby areas. They would help the family financially and their sons would occasionally pay them a visit,” said Khichu Ram. The neighbours said owing to some behavioural issues they were also wary of interacting with the family.

Neighbours also complained of foul smell emanating from the Gupta residence and that the entire family lived in “very unhygienic conditions”.

While the sisters had stopped venturing out for the past six-seven years, Mamata’s teenaged son, like any normal boy, would go out to play with his friends. “He would discuss his mother’s health with them. He used to study in a nearby school, but dropped out last year. He also helped his grandmother with daily chores and it was Ms. Gupta who did all the cooking,” said the neighbour.

As for the medical condition of the two sisters, Baba Bhimrao Ambedkar Hospital Medical Superintendent C. M. Khanijo said: “After three hours of management, their conditions have improved a little. They are being given nutrients, which cannot be administered orally at this stage. For us, the first priority is life and then we will attend to other ailments. All necessary investigations have been completed and results are awaited.”

Commenting on the reduced mobility of the two sisters, another hospital doctor said: “Most of the joints of the two sisters are locked impairing their mobility. We have got their X-rays done and are awaiting the report. The younger one is suspected to have one of her hands fractured, while the elder has been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit.”

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