The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tongs to bring domestic help to task
- Stamp of torture

Alipurduar, Oct. 23: A 13-year-old girl was beaten up with a pair of hot tongs after she put some extra clothes in a tub of water for washing.

A police complaint has been filed against Tinku Roy, a house-wife, who had employed Sohagi Das to work as a maid in her rented house in the Suryanagar area of town. She has not been arrested yet.

Sitanath Das, the inspector in charge of Alipurduar police station, confirmed that an FIR has been filed. “A probe is on. The girl is currently staying with the landlord, Ashoke Sengupta, and his family. ”

Sohagi was rescued by Sengupta after he heard her shouting for help on Sunday afternoon. Sengupta had let out the ground floor of his residence to Tinku and her husband Ajoy Roy, who works for the state electricity department. The Roys have a eight-year-old son.

Tinku, who is from Chanchal in Malda, had brought Sohagi from Harishchandrapur (in the same district) about a year ago. Sohagi is the third child of her parents (she has a younger brother), who are farm labourers. The Dases have been informed and will be coming to Alipurduar tomorrow.

On Sunday, Tinku had asked Sohagi to wash some clothes. Sohagi said she had made the mistake of putting aside some extra clothes for washing. “Pishi (aunt, meaning Tinku) always had a high temper but she had never beaten me up before. But that day she struck me with a pair of hot tongs. The tongs scalded my body. I was shouting and Ashoke uncle and his wife came to my rescue.”

Sengupta had first taken Sohagi to Alipurduar hospital and later with permission from police brought the girl to his house. Yesterday, he lodged a formal complaint with the Alipurduar police station against Tinku. The Senguptas have decided to adopt Sohagi if her parents agree.

An employee of the PWD department, Sengupta said by the time he had come down to the Roy household, around 50 people had assembled there.

“They were all protesting and Tinku was answering back. I spotted the girl crying by herself in the corner of a room. The police have given us permission to keep her at our house for a few days. I have a son, who studies in Class XI. Since we have no daughter, we would like to adopt her.”

Tinku refused to talk to The Telegraph. Her husband said he was not aware about what exactly happened on that day since he was not at home.

The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 prohibits employment of children in certain hazardous occupations and regulates the working conditions. A new notification under the act prohibits employment of children up to 14 years as domestic helps.

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