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Therapist held for child hit

Charu Market: A speech therapist assigned to a toddler who has difficulty speaking was arrested for allegedly pushing the child while trying to make him sit, causing him to hit his head on the corner of a table.

The boy, aged two years and four months, suffered a cut as a result of the alleged push, according to his father.

The therapist, who was arrested on Tuesday and remanded in judicial custody, has since lodged a counter complaint against the boy's father, accusing him of slapping her after he saw his son bleeding from the cut and crying.

Police said the alleged incident occurred on Monday evening when the child was in a institute on Prince Bakhtiar Shah Road for his second session of speech therapy.

The boy's parents had been asked to wait outside the classroom and the door was closed behind them. The couple, who are residents of the Shakespeare Sarani neighbourhood, were seated there for around 10 minutes before they saw the receptionist enter the room with an antiseptic solution and cotton.

The boy's mother entered the classroom to find her child bleeding and bawling, her husband said in the complaint.

The therapist alleged that the child's father lost his temper and slapped her.

After the boy's parents visited Charu Market police station to lodge a complaint, investigators collected footage from a CCTV camera installed inside the room at the speech institute and showed it to them.

"What I saw in the footage was brutal. She was repeatedly pushing and shoving my child. He was crying... As he cannot speak properly, he was trying to hold her hand and take her towards the door," the mother said.

She said her husband too had a speech delay in childhood that improved with time.

Based on the complaint, the police have started a case against the speech therapist under Indian Penal Code sections pertaining to "voluntarily causing hurt" and "wrongful restraint".

She has also been charged under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act), 2015, that deals with cruelty towards children.

The last charge, if proved, could invite a maximum punishment of five years in jail and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.

"We need well-trained special educators everywhere, not just Calcutta. The ones we have are not enough. One has to understand a child with special needs, set targets for them that are not fixed. It's not a syllabus that has to be finished in this much time," said Neena Singh, executive director at Akshar, an inclusive school.

"Speech is not about academic development alone. Some children need independent teaching and for some motor skills or behavioural skills need to be worked upon."

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