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Boy whisked to shelter, cries torture

Bangalore, Aug. 22: A 13-year-old schoolboy wrongly picked up as a vagrant is in hospital after alleged beatings by the man in charge of the government rescue home in Bangalore where he was taken.

“House father” Ramesh Manju whipped him with a PVC pipe again and again during the 24 hours he spent at the home, leaving him limping and unable to sit, the boy told reporters from his hospital bed today.

His body and buttocks were covered in bruises and his knees had abrasions from being made to “walk” on them.

The Class VIII pupil, who cannot legally be named, has narrated to police tales of Manju’s alleged cruelty he had heard from fellow inmates.

Although the boy spoke to the police on Wednesday after being rescued from the home by a visiting child welfare committee team, no arrests have been made yet.

According to the boy, he had been wandering aimlessly in the city’s Vidyaranyapura locality after school hours on Tuesday when a child welfare NGO, Bosco Mane, picked him up. It then sent him to the Government Boys’ Home in the Lakkasandra neighbourhood around 7pm.

The boy said he had repeatedly told the NGO officials, and later Manju, that he wasn’t homeless.

“Nobody listened when I told them I have a mother who would be looking for me and tried to give them her mobile number,” he said. The priest who runs Bosco Mane didn’t take calls today.

The boy said his father had abandoned the family and his mother recently lost her job as a private security guard. He was used to loitering around after school.

His ordeal began moments after being brought to the home, when he failed to stand in line at the pre-supper prayer on Tuesday evening.

“The ‘house father’ thrashed me on my back and kicked me repeatedly. After some time, he saw me wandering around the home and whipped me with a PVC pipe for around 10 minutes,” the boy said.

He said two staff members, Santosh and Narasimha, held him down.

“On Wednesday morning, he (Manju) got me and a few others to clean the drains. After that I went to play with the other inmates when he got angry,” the boy said. “He ordered me to clean all the toilets. I refused since I had never done anything like that.”

It brought another round of whipping with the pipe. “He asked me to walk on my knees five times across the corridor,” the boy said. “Later, when I was having lunch, he came up to me, asked four other boys to hold me and beat me with the same pipe again although I had done no wrong.”

He said the other boys later told him they were terrified of Manju, who appears to be around 30 years old. “They told me he had once lit a matchstick and held it close to the eyes of a boy, who suffered burns,” the victim said.

When the child welfare committee inspectors, whose visit was fortunately scheduled that day, found the boy limping and unable to sit, they took him to the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and contacted his mother and police.

Manju has been charged in an FIR for cruelty to a child and for causing hurt.

When The Telegraph visited the government home today, Manju was nowhere to be seen and the staff wouldn’t reveal his whereabouts.