‘You’re a dog, behave like one’. This is what the couple would tell their house help while giving him a whipping every day for nearly two years since they brought him to Pune from a UP village
Tum kutte ho, kutte jaise raho. In what is, perhaps, the most apt manifestation of his beastly behaviour, this is what a city techie allegedly used to tell his 12-year-old house help while he beat up and whipped the child relentlessly every day for nearly two years.
Pankaj Ramji Pande (33) and his wife Shweta (28), residents of Lunkad Goldcoast society, opposite the Symbiosis campus in Viman Nagar, have been booked after the child’s daily pleas for help were finally answered and he was rescued by the Childline NGO and Airport police on Tuesday evening.
Lacerated: The medical report of the boy, who was rescued on Tuesday, states that his thighs, hands, chest, back and head bore torture marks. He also had two burn injuries
He had torture marks all over the body, including two burn marks. The boy was brought to Pune from his village in Uttar Pradesh’s Balrampur district by the Pandes in 2012 to work as their house help.
While Pankaj works with an IT firm in Yerawada, Shweta is a housewife. They also have a one-and-a-half-year old son.
Pankaj and Shweta hail from Balrampur district and the boy’s family is known to Shweta’s family, but that did not prevent their barbaric behaviour, according to police.
“The victim has been brutally tortured by the couple since 2012, when they brought him to Pune for doing household work like sweeping floors, cleaning utensils, washing clothes and even preparing tea sometimes. When he erred in doing the work, Pandey would beat him up and whip him using belts and wires, while Shweta gave him burns twice,” said Inspector Dilip Naukudkar, in charge of Airport police station.
“The medical report states that the boy was brutally tortured on his thighs, hands, chest, back and head, all of which bear torture marks,” said Sub-Inspector Haribhau Markad, the investigating officer in the case.
The boy, who has studied till Std V, has five sisters and four brothers in his village and the family’s poor economic condition forced his parents, who are daily wage earners, to agree to send him to Pune as house help.
“The victim’s parents were paid Rs 2,000 per month in lieu of his services and the couple has claimed that they had spent about R8,000 on treatment of the victim’s father when he fell ill. Pankaj used to beat the boy everyday while Shweta used to support her husband in this act.
‘Tum kutte ho, kutte jaise raho’, Pankaj used to tell the victim,” Childline volunteer Sagar Gurav, who has filed the FIR in the case, told mid-day.
“For the past few days, the boy had been trying to get himself rescued by signalling to the students of the Symbiosis institutes from the windows of the flat.
He used to tell them that he is hungry and is being beaten up. On Monday evening, we got a call on Childline’s helpline number 1098 informing us about the torture meted out to the boy. Accordingly, our team reached the society the next day along with the Airport police.
The boy was sweeping the floor when we reached the flat,” added Gurav. The couple has been booked and Pankaj has been arrested.
They have been charged under sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 23 (punishment for cruelty to juvenile or child) and 26 (exploitation of juvenile or child employee) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
Infuriated over his bed-wetting, a five-year-old boy’s father and step-mother inflicted burn injuries on him and beat him up with a stick in November 2013.
A social activist had filed the complaint against Vijaykumar Gupta and the boy’s step-mother Manju, residents of Ovhal Vasti in Lohegaon.
The Airport Police had recovered a plastic belt, rope and half-burnt pieces of wood used by the accused to assault the child.
Child Labour in Pune
Children are brought as labourers to Pune from various parts of the country. Prominent among them are Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and the Marathwada region in Maharashtra.
In 2013, 113 cases of child labour, 43 cases of physical abuse and 42 of sexual abuse were reported to Childline NGO. The NGO’s call centre receives an average of 25,000 calls per month about children in distress.