After rape of homeless girl in Mahim, street dwellers keep daughter chained
Alarmed by the rape and murder of homeless Mahim girl, street dwellers in GTB Nagar keep their daughter chained day and night
How far would you go to protect your child? One mother's fear for her daughter's safety has become a shackle for the seven-year-old. Day and night, the child remains chained to her cot on the footpath her family calls home. This brutal treatment is the only way her mother could think of to protect her, as she heard how a little girl in Mahim was raped and murdered, after being kidnapped from her pavement dwelling.
The girl's mother, Sapna Kaur, said the seven-year-old would get into all kinds of trouble. "I was already upset about her mischiefs. She can't sit still for a minute. She is so naughty, she would fight all the time with her classmates and not focus on studies. So last year, after completing Std II, she stopped going to school," said Sapna.
While Sapna, 25, heads out in the daytime to sell hair clips and other knick-knacks on the footpath, her daughter and 60-year-old mother, Meet Kaur, stay home at the shack they set up on the footpath at Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar, Sion. Sapna fears the elderly woman won't be able to keep pace with her daughter.
The seven-year-old dropped out of school last year, and spends all day and night chained to her bed in her family's pavement dwelling. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
'It's not safe here'
Hearing about the horrific rape and murder of a five-year-old in Mahim a fortnight ago pushed Sapna into further despair. The deceased girl was also living on the footpath with her family, and had been kidnapped from right next to her sleeping parents. "When I heard what happened to the girl in Mahim, I got scared and didn't know what to do.
So I bought a steel chain and padlock, and chained my daughter. I know it's inhuman, but what will I do if something bad happens to her?" said the worried mother, wiping away her tears. She added, "We live between two gardens, where drug peddlers, drunkards and other anti-social elements gather. Anyone can do anything to my daughter, so what else I can do to ensure her safety?"
Rajneet Singh, who works in an office opposite the family's shed, noticed the child. "I was shocked to see her chained. I told the family not to do this. It is really shocking what the feeling of being unsafe can to do to a person," said Rajneet, son of MLA Tara Singh.
Nowhere to go
When asked why they don't move somewhere safer, the girl's grandmother, Meet, said, "We have nowhere else to go." Originally from Ludhiana, Punjab, the family used to visit Mumbai frequently and stay at the gurudwara at Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar.
"Ten years ago, during one such visit, my husband passed away. We had no money to go back, and no source of income, so we decided to stay here," recalled Meet.
Two of her daughters shifted to Punjab after marriage, but her son Mangal, 40, and youngest daughter Sapna live with her. Sapna had married a man from Dharavi, but he abandoned her and her daughter.
On February 7, a five-year-old girl was abducted from her family's pavement dwelling on Lady Jamshedji Marg by another footpath dweller. He took her to a secluded place and raped her. Fearing she would scream, he strangled her. After he was arrested, he told the cops that he had seen the girl sitting unattended for hours, and thought no one would find if he abducted her. Her body was found barely 100 metres from her home.
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