Family members of Menaka Thakur, 7, who was allegedly branded and beaten up by her stepmother, Aarti, at Dharavi, are worried about losing the custody of the girl after she recuperates.
As per the procedure, after Menaka gets discharged from Sion hospital, the Children Welfare Committee (CWC), formed under the Juvenile Justice Act, will decide if the girl is to be sent to a childcare centre or to be handed over to her extended family members.
Saroj Thakur, the victim’s paternal uncle, said: “We are happy that Menaka’s misery has come to an end. However, we have been told that we cannot take her back to Muzzafarpur, where Menaka’s grandparents looked after her since her birth, till we get permission from the CWC.”
After her mother’s death, Menaka lived with her grandparents — Sukhnandan Thakur and Phoolkumari Thakur — at their Muzzafarpur residence in Bihar. Saroj said that his parents would not have allowed her come to Mumbai had it not been for the opportunity of getting enrolled in a school.
“Even when Menaka’s father Sumit and Aarti were staying in Muzzafarpur before moving to Mumbai, the girl lived with her grandparents,” said Saroj. “We hope the CWC recognises the fact that there has been no negligence on our part. We allowed Menaka to come to Mumbai as we thought it would ensure her a better future. We had no idea that her stepmother would put her through such torture,” he added.
Santosh Shinde, member, CWC, said, “Our team will visit the residence of the person who takes responsibility of the victim. A report would be prepared by the probation officer based on which the decision would be taken.”
Since in this case, Menaka’s grandparents stay out of city limits, a special juvenile police team will visit the residence.