The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Medieval cry in highrise
- Child accuses employer of savagery

Calcutta, Jan. 20: Twelve-year-old Tumpa Mondol, forced to work as a domestic help after her father’s death, was allegedly beaten up, scratched and attacked with canes and scissors by her employers for months before her mother rescued her yesterday.

Divya Kalwani, the 35-year-old wife of a businessman and resident of a Southern Avenue highrise, was arrested on charges of torturing Tumpa but was later released on bail by the Alipore sub-divisional magistrate’s court. She has denied all the charges.

However, Satyajit Banerjee, the officer in-charge of Lake police station, said medical opinion obtained from MR Bangur Hospital confirms the torture.

Tumpa’s misery started shortly after her father Bholanath Mondol, a farmer, died in their village at Hingalganj in Sunderbans about a year ago. With the family’s lone breadwinner dead, it was up to mother Sabita to make both ends meet and feed her four children. She decided to move to Sarsuna in Thakurpukur with Tumpa to look for work. The other children stayed behind at Hingalganj with relatives.

At Sarsuna, Sabita found work as a part-time domestic help and she began looking for a house where Tumpa could be employed full-time. A local youth finally managed to find a place at Southern Avenue.

“They said they would be able to pay Rs 300 a month, but with poverty staring in our faces, I decided to go ahead,” Sabita told police yesterday.

In June 2003, Tumpa started working at businessman Nari Kalwani’s house. After the first few months, Divya allegedly started beating up Tumpa on the slightest pretext.

“She used to scratch me severely and beat me up whenever she felt like it. At times, she used a pair of scissors to inflict injuries on my knuckles,” Tumpa has stated in her police complaint. The girl also said she was made to go without food.

Once, Divya allegedly cut her hair to teach her a lesson for arguing. In their complaint, Sabita and Tumpa have alleged that Divya did not allow the 12-year-old to meet her mother. “She (Divya) always used to tell me that she was away from the house or was in the bathroom,” Sabita has alleged. Yesterday, however, she managed to catch a glimpse of her daughter, who was crying.

Sabita forced herself into the house and brought Tumpa out. They left the house and rushed to Sarsuna, where they lodged a complaint with the local police at the Sarsuna Investigation Centre.

Since the place where Tumpa was allegedly tortured falls under the Lake police station, Sabita and Tumpa were escorted there. Officer-in-charge Satyajit Banerjee took the girl for a medical test at the MR Bangur Hospital, where doctors confirmed torture. A police team then arrested Divya from her Southern Avenue house.

Divya was produced in court today and granted bail. Coming out of police custody, she described all the charges as baseless. “She had infections all over her body and she had also developed eczema on her knuckles. I did cut her hair, but on her back, since she was experiencing pain from the rashes on her neck. How could I torture such a poor soul'” she said.

Her husband, Nari, thanked god his wife’s ordeal was over. “We will never employ a domestic help and we have learnt our lesson. This is a big conspiracy hatched to defame us.”

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