A seven-year-old girl, Menaka Thakur, from Dharavi, who had been beaten and branded by her stepmother for two months, had to be hospitalised on Wednesday.
The woman, Aarti Thakur, 24, who has been arrested, allegedly branded Menaka with hot spoons and used to beat her with a rolling pin after gagging her to make sure she did not shout for help. The Dharavi police said the child had injuries to her private parts as well.
Menaka had been brought to Mumbai by her father, Sumit Thakur, a carpenter, from their native place in Bihar two months ago. Her mother, Thakur’s first wife, died a few years ago. Menaka was meant to be enrolled in a school here, but ended up doing all household chores and was even kept hungry sometimes. The Dharavi police who arrested Aarti on charges of voluntarily causing hurt and showing cruelty to a minor, are not sure about Thakur’s role in the case.
Senior inspector of Dharavi, Ashok Survegandh, said, “We have arrested Aarti for mercilessly beating up the child for more than two months. The child has many burn injuries as Aarti used to brand her with hot spoons. She also beat her up with a rolling pin which has left injury marks all over her body.”
When Menaka could not take the torture any more, police said, she ran out of her house in Shatabdi Nagar, Dharavi, on Tuesday night. Shobha Phadke, a neighbour, said, “Menaka came out of the house, removed the cloth stuffed into her mouth and started shouting for help. A crowd soon gathered and we saw that she had injury marks on her face and looked traumatised. Without bothering to find out more, we got her admitted to Sion hospital.”
The Dharavi police were then alerted. They reached the spot and started making inquiries. Survegandh said, “Neighbours told us that Aarti had been beating up and branding the child ever since she came to stay with them two months ago.”