The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dance relief, till time takes toll
- Fear persists despite parents’ assurance

Raiganj, April 12: Suparna Sarkar will not have to dance — at least till her parents are certain that police have forgotten about their child.

The 14-year-old, who had gone to the police yesterday afternoon after six years of abuse at home, said her angry parents starved her this morning.

“Last night, I was given a little food but today, my mother told me to go hungry and see what it feels like,” Suparna (name changed) said at her home in Raiganj town.

“But after a few days I may have to go back to dancing. She told me that the concern shown by the police and neighbours won’t last long.”

Suparna had told the police her parents thrashed her and threatened to force poison down her throat if she refused to dance to Hindi film numbers at shows, which brought them money.

Parents Bapi and Ruma, who seemed to have disappeared through the day, turned up at the police station past midnight and brought their daughter home around 1.30 am.

Bapi gave the police a written undertaking that Suparna would never again be forced to dance.

The inspector in charge of Raiganj police station, Pradip Chakrabarty, said that since Suparna was a minor, her parents were her sole guardians.

“I’ve told them not to leave town without permission. If they break a single promise, I’ll start a child abuse case.”

This morning, Suparna wouldn’t talk before her parents, who were busy cancelling today’s performance at Motihari, Bihar. She led this correspondent into another room and hinted she was being blackmailed emotionally.

“My father is planning to sell off the TV set, DVD player and the bicycle — all bought with money I had earned. I refused to part with my pet mynah,” she said.

“I opened my Class VIII books but couldn’t concentrate. They’ll either kill me or take me to some other place.”

Suparna told the police she had ranked among the top 10 in Class VII but her parents wanted her to give up studying and she could not sit for this year’s Class VIII finals.

“I never tortured her. She didn’t sit her exam, so we asked her to perform this year,” Ruma said.

“We only get Rs 700 per show. An agent from Malda, Bharat Shau, takes a cut of Rs 200, sometimes Rs 300.”

“I recently lost my job… I sent my daughter to dance so that we all could survive,” Bapi said. “Now, I’ll send her back to school.”

Head teacher Tapati Dutta recalled that Suparna would skip classes a lot. “I summoned her mother several times and she made all sorts of excuses. We’ll definitely take her back.”

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