CCTV grabs show how the maid flung the baby on the ground, and also hit and kicked her
A young couple in Kharghar lived through every parent’s worst nightmare after they placed their 9-month-old daughter in day care centre, trusting that she would be well looked after. But after just one day, they were horrified to see their daughter with bruises all over her face and body after being brutally manhandled by the maid.
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While Rajat Sinha (31) is an engineer, his wife Ruchita (29) is an HR professional. After her maternity break, Ruchita was finally ready to start working again, and the couple decided to place their baby daughter Ritisha in a day care centre. The couple lives in Sector 10, Kharghar, and they zeroed in Purva Nursery and day care centre, since it was in the vicinity.
9-month-old Ritisha came home with bruises on her face and all over her body
The nursery charges were Rs 5,000 per month, and the couple decided to place 9-month-old Ritisha there on a trial basis to see if she could settle in. On November 21, Ritisha was dropped off at the centre at 8.30 am. They had double checked for any possible issues.
“We made all required enquiries, spoke to parents of other kids at the centre. We also ensured that the centre has a CCTV camera, so we could check on our child. Since it was the first day, my wife was calling at the centre at almost every hour to check if everything was okay. My mother-in-law also made a few rounds to the centre. Both were repeatedly told that Ritisha was fine,” recalled Rajat.
But when her mother arrived to pick her up at 7 pm, she couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the bruises on her face. “Ritisha was fast asleep but there was a bruise under her eye. When my wife asked about it, the centre owner said she had hit herself while playing. Initially, we thought that Ritisha may have been stressed because it was her first day, and we believed the caretaker. But at home, she was crying continuously and refused to eat anything,” recalled Rajat.
“At night, when we changed her clothes, we were shocked to see more bruises on her back and behind her ear as well. We took her to doctor the next day, and were informed that our daughter got those marks because she had been beaten up,” he added.
They went to the day care centre and demand to see the CCTV footage, but the owner told them to file a police complaint first. The couple immediately went to the Kharghar police station, and the cops checked the CCTV footage the next day.
“We could not believe our eyes while watching the CCTV footage,” said Ruchita, who burst into tears. Her husband continued, “It was inhuman. The maid was manhandling my daughter — hitting her with toys and throwing her on the mat. We just saw what she did to my baby, who knows how she is treating the other kids at the centre.” Based on the CCTV footage, an FIR was filed in the wee hours yesterday, and the police arrested both the maid Afsana Shaikh, and the centre’s owner Priyanka Nikam under Sections 325 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 34 (common intention) of the IPC, along with Section 23 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
“The owner has been released on bail, while the maid remains in magisterial custody. The owner has stated that the incident happened while she was out for lunch. The maid is actually a cleaner at the centre but was looking after the children that day because the regular maids were on leave. We will now scrutinise CCTV footage of the entire day to see if any other child was harmed,” said the investigating officer, API Sunil Thopate from Kharghar police.
When mid-day contacted the centre owner, Nikam, her phone was answered by a woman claiming to be a neighbour, saying the owner was at the police station.
A little later, however, Nikam’s husband Praveen took over and said, “We are in court right now and will get back to you later with our statement.” But when the reporter tried to call them after court hours, the number had been switched off.
The Sinhas were even more distressed when baby Rishita became feverish and started vomiting. “We took her back to the doctor and a CT scan revealed that she has a small fracture at the back of her skull, which led to internal bleeding. She is now under observation for two days at the Fortis Hospital in Vashi,” said her father, Rajat.
Senior paediatric consultant Dr Ashok Gawdi, who is treating the child, told mid-day, “When the patient was first brought to me, I suspected that there had been a physical assault, so I categorically informed parents not to send her to the day care centre and to inquire into the matter. Though the child is medically stable now, she is extremely scared.”