The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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11-yr-old beaten, burned
- bruised childhood

Raiganj, Nov. 7: An 11-year old girl who worked as a domestic help here was hospitalised with serious injuries on her legs and head and burns on her neck.

Police are searching for her employers, who have been accused of torture.

Sabitri Singha had urinated in her sleep on October 17 and Bhakta Das and his wife Shibani not only beat her up, but also kept her confined to the house till yesterday, when her mother came to take her home.

As news of the torture trickled out, around 400 people ransacked the Das residence in Milanpara here this morning. But the couple — both teachers of Titpukur High School, 23km away — had fled by then.

Swapan Kumar Pal, the superintendent of the district hospital, said Sabitri has been allotted Bed 20. “She is in the surgical ward. X-Ray and other test reports show that she has suffered serious injuries on her legs and head. But since I am not an orthopaedics specialist, I cannot say for sure the exact nature of the leg injury, whether it has been fracture or not,” he said.

Chandana Singha, who has filed an FIR against the Dases with the Raiganj police station, said she had been made to wait for hours before she was allowed to see her daughter Sabitri. “I had gone to take my daughter home for Kali Puja. I was told to come back in the evening. When I went back for her I noticed that she had a problem walking and her face was swollen,” said Chandana. The Dases told her that Sabitri had fallen on the floor of the bathroom.

However, on the way to their house in Tungidighi near Titpukur, Sabitri broke down in the trekker and told her mother that the Dases often beat her up but on October 17, she was even burned with lighted cigarettes. Chandana took her to Karandighi rural hospital, from where her daughter was referred to the district hospital. She then filed the police complaint.

Policemen from the Raiganj police station visited the Dases house last night. “We found only Shibani’s mother, who is 56 years old. A case has been started against the couple for engaging a child as domestic help,” said Pradip Chakraborty, the inspector-in-charge of the police station.

The Child Labour (prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 prohibits employment of children in hazardous occupations and regulates the working conditions.

A recent notification under the act prohibits employment of children up to 14 years as domestic help.

Sabitri had been engaged eight months ago to look after Shibani’s mother. “But she was made to do all household chores,” said Chandana.

Usha Mondal, a neighbour of the Dases, claimed that she heard her scream almost everyday. “But we never interfered,” said Usha. She recalled having noticed on the morning of October 18 (Saptami), Sabitri being helped to the tube-well by the Dases.

“Now that I think of it…she was beaten up the night before and so could not walk,” said Usha.

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