After video of day-care centre attendant thrashing a child went viral, more parents are coming forward with horror stories involving the same woman
CCTV grabs show how the maid flung the baby and also hit and kicked her
A day after the horror at Kharghar’s Purva Nursery and day-care centre came to light, Kharghar resident and psychologist Neelam Khanna (33) recounted her brush with the accused maid, Afsana Shaikh. Khanna said that six months ago, when Shaikh was working for her, taking care of her child, she one day screamed that she wished the child were dead.
“One day, my seven-year-old daughter slipped on the wet floor of the house and fell. Instead of picking her up, she screamed ‘Ye bachche mar kyu nahi jaate’ (why don’t these kids die). I was shocked... I asked her to stop coming that very day. She was working for another family in the building; they too asked her to leave. Later, I found out that she had started working in a well-known school in Kharghar. I informed the principal, after which she was fired. I am thankful that I noticed her behaviour right at the start.”
Nine-month-old Ritisha, who was thrashed and kicked by the maid at the day-care centre in Kharghar
Attempt to murder added
After the video of Shaikh hitting and kicking a nine-month-old went viral on Thursday, political parties yesterday protested outside the day-care centre. A few NGOs also met the police commissioner, demanding that action be taken against the centre.
Jitendra Hatwar’s two-and-a-half-year-old son was also enrolled at the Purva nursery; they took him out after Thursday’s incident
The Kharghar police have further register a case adding section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code against the accused and are investigating the matter. She will be produced in court today.
“Shaikh seems mentally disturbed; she has no house. She has a son, her husband left her a few months ago, which has disturbed her more,” said sub-inspector Sunil Thopate.
Parents and Kharghar residents also staged a march against the centre.
Jitendra Hatwar (43), a junior manager with a private firm, whose two-and-a-half-year-old son was also at Purva day-care centre, said, “I put my son there three months ago. On Thursday night, our neighbors told us about the incident; later, it went viral on WhatsApp and other social networking sites. We were shocked… I will never send my kid there again.”
Hatwar added that he has already started searching for a new centre. “Both my wife and I have odd work timings, so day-care centre is the only way out. After we enrolled our son at Purva, I had gotten some suspicion about the centre, but we had no option but to stick with it. However, after this incident, there is no way we are taking a risk,” he said.
With both parents working in a number of households, day-care centres have become a major need for the urban society. And with the increasing demand, such centres are mushrooming without any regularisation.
The Kharghar incident has highlighted what activists have been seeking — the need to focus on regularising of day-care centres, nurseries and pre-primary schooling, which currently does not fall under any department.
Swati Popat, president of Early Childhood Education Association, said, “At the Centre, there is a women and child welfare department to look into making policies for early childhood care and education, but at the state level, it falls under the school education department.”
“Early childhood care is a proper sector in itself, which is not being taken care of by anybody. It is also not feasible for these two departments to look after it when women and education already are such vast topics. It’s why we have been demanding a separate ministry for it,” she added.
Navi Mumbai police guidelines
Commissioner Hemant Nagrale issued guidelines to day-care centres soon after the Kharghar incident...
Every centre will have to register with the police station under whose jurisdiction it comes.
Every centre must have CCTV cameras installed and the footage screened by those running it every 24 hours. It will be mandatory to save data of at least 30 days. With the help of technology, the CCTV cameras should be linked with parents’ computers or mobile phones.
Police verification will be mandatory for all staff members working in day-care centres.
Every centre will have to maintain a register in which in and out time of each child is recorded. Parents’ signatures will be mandatory when the child is going out of the centre.
Shubhangi Sawant, a Thane resident
‘A year ago, I had enrolled my two-year-old daughter in a day-care centre close to my home. Everything was fine for a few months. Suddenly, one day, she refused to go there. I don’t know what happened, but I decided not to take a chance. However, today, so many couples are working and have no choice but to turn to such a centre. In such circumstances, there is a need that these places be governed with strict norms’
Prince Duggal, a Kharghar resident
‘We have a two-year-old daughter, who we have put in a day-care centre in Kharghar. We pay R6,000 monthly. We feel safe as the centre has good teachers and maids. But after the recent incident, we are being alert and keeping a tab on the happenings at the centre’