Boy's fingers crushed in remand home: Couldn't have done anything to prevent it, says Cook

The cook, who was in the kitchen when the boy’s fingers were crushed in the chapati-making machine at Dongri remand home, says he had put his hand in the machine on his own and had not been asked to clean the machine

Suspended and booked for his alleged negligence in allowing a teenaged inmate to venture close enough to a chapati-making machine to get his fingers crushed by it, Dongri remand home cook Vikram Kalambe (38) has refuted the charges, claiming the boy put his hand inside the machine on his own.

The boy at JJ Hospital
The boy at JJ Hospital

Kalambe also contradicted the versions of some officials at the remand home and the boy himself, who had told mid-day (‘Gruesome accident blows lid off child labour at Dongri remand home, December 20’) that the boy had been forced to clean the machine, leading to the accident.

The cook, Vikram Kalambe
The cook, Vikram Kalambe

The remand home’s superintendent has also told mid-day that the boy’s age is 16 and he had stated the wrong age after the accident as he was scared.

Not at fault
“I had made all the chapatis and shut the gas cylinder and all the other things in the kitchen on December 14 when this boy came in and put his hand inside the machine.

mid-day report on December 20
mid-day report on December 20

When I saw the boy bleeding, I immediately took him to the hospital. We took him to J J hospital in the morning and he was operated upon around 2 pm. I was not at fault and could not have done anything to prevent the accident,” Kalambe told mid-day.

“There are just two cooks in the remand home as of now and so we take the help of the children to make chapatis. We train 12 kids at one time. This boy was not trained at all, still he went near the machine,” he added. Kalambe, a Matunga resident, has a wife, eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. He has been working at the remand home for eight years.

“On an average, each boy eats four chapatis and there are more than 350 kids in the home. It is practically impossible for one person to make so many chapatis and hence we take the help of trained kids, but that is only for an hour or two a day.”

Karan Sathavali (name changed), meanwhile, is still at JJ Hospital. “My hand pains a bit, but otherwise I’m fine,” Dr Rajat Kapoor, the plastic surgeon who operated on Sathavali, said, “The boy’s condition is stable.

After three weeks, we will take a call on whether to amputate his little finger, where the blood circulation is a little less. The other three fingers that were crushed are healing.”

Official speak
Shankar Jadhav, superintendent of Dongri remand home, said, “The boy is 16 years old and had initially given his age as 13 and had said that his fingers had got crushed after being caught in the door as he was scared.

We are conducting an internal inquiry into the incident and looking at the cook’s involvement as well.” He added that Sathavali had put his hand in the machine on his own and no one had forced him to do it.

Inspector Ankush Katkar from Dongri police station said, “We have filed a case against the cook, Kalambe, under Section 338 (Causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) of the IPC and Section 23 (negligence) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.”

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