| Gobardhan Mahato. Picture by Rana Ghosh
Durgapur, June 3: The wife of a Durgapur Steel Plant senior manager has been arrested on torture charges after a young domestic help fled the house with cuts and gashes on his body.
Gobardhan Mahato, 12, has accused Purvita Ramaiya of regularly hitting him with serving spoons and sharp-edged utensils, and sometimes denying him food and water.
Purvita, 40, is charged with assaulting and torturing Gobardhan and violating the Child Labour Act, which forbids anyone to hire child workers below 14 — whether in homes, eateries or factories.
The mother of two sons, aged six and eight, was produced this morning at the special Sunday court of the additional chief judicial magistrate in Durgapur, about 200 km from Calcutta. She was remanded in judicial custody for a day, till tomorrow’s hearing.
Gobardhan, whose father is a daily labourer in Purulia’s Onda, had slipped out of the DSP officers’ quarters in the upscale Anand Vihar neighbourhood around 7 pm yesterday. Local shopkeepers took him to the police station.
“We picked up Purvita last night. The boy has injuries on his right hand, back and cheeks. It seems he was attacked with sharp objects,” said Pannalal Goswami, circle inspector, Durgapur.
“We are investigating whether her husband Murlikrishna was involved in the torture. In any case, he cannot avoid the responsibility of hiring a child worker.”
Murlikrishna Ramaiya, 42, senior manager (personnel), refused comment.
On the court’s orders, the police have taken Gobardhan in “safe custody” and informed his parents.
The boy, who never went to school, said “aunty” had been beating him on the slightest pretexts since he was hired six months ago.
“Sometimes I was denied food for a day. I never received my monthly wage of Rs 400,” he said at Durgapur police station.
Gobardhan alleged that he was beaten very badly yesterday afternoon and put in the store room without food or water because he had failed to clean the utensils well.
“In the evening, when uncle was out and aunty was in the bathroom, I opened the door and tiptoed out of the house,” he said. “I rushed to the market across the road and told the shopkeepers about how I was treated. They brought me to the police station.”
The boy’s father Bhojku Ram earns Rs 30-40 a day and found it impossible to feed his family of seven.
Gobardhan, the second of five children, had left for Durgapur six months ago with neighbour Nibaran Mahato, who too works as a domestic help in the steel township. Nibaran found the boy the job at the Ramaiyas’.
Last month, private firm employee Manas Chakraborty, 37, and his railway staffer wife Lipika, 33, were arrested in Howrah for torturing their 11-year-old maid Sumita Oraon, whom they hadn’t paid for eight months.