The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dance slave breaks free
-Teen goes to police against parents

Raiganj, April 11: For six years, her parents forced her to dance to Hindi film songs at public shows and thrashed her when she refused. Today, the 14-year-old slipped out of home and filed a police complaint against them.

Suparna Sarkar (name changed) said she would rather stay in a state-run shelter than be tortured at home.

“I am my parents’ only child. I started learning kathak from Class V and, along with that, picked up dancing to Hindi songs. For the past six years, I have been performing at events,” she said, sitting in a corner of a police station in Raiganj, north Bengal.

The FIR has come two days after a nation-wide survey revealed rampant child abuse. Eighty-nine per cent of those abused said the abusers were parents or members of the family.

Suparna said she ranked among the top ten in her Class VII finals last year but soon her parents started suggesting that she give up school and concentrate on dance.

Last July, her parents took her to Motihari, Bihar, without telling her they had lined up a dance performance. “When I refused, my mother thrashed me beside the stage and I was forced to dance,” she said.

Amita Chakrabarty, the landlady of their home, confirmed that Suparna used to take kathak lessons from her daughter. “But now she dances only item numbers and often there are screams and sounds of beating from the ground floor where they stay.”

In February this year, Suparna was taken to the house of a wealthy landlord in Motihari.

“There the men began shooting from their guns at random. One bullet whizzed past my head. I fled from the stage, but my mother caught me and said I would be killed if I didn’t complete the dance as she and my father had taken a large sum.”

Suparna said her parents often locked her up in a room without food. “My father even showed me a bottle of poison, which, he said, he would force me to take if I didn’t obey them.”

Today, Suparna left home saying she would visit a friend but went straight to the police station.

“I’ve spoken to the girl at length and feel sorry for her,” said inspector-in-charge Pradeep Chakraborty. “I sent a force to her house but it’s locked and her parents, Bapi and Ruma, are nowhere around.”

The girl will stay the night in the duty officer’s room if her parents don’t show up.

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