Three months after a girl (4) nearly lost her left eye at an anganwadi centre, a woman worker is charged with hitting the child carelessly.
"On May 31, Kamaljeet Kaur, anganwadi worker at centre number 2 in Ajit Gill village, slapped my daughter with the hand in which she held a pencil," villager Bhagwan Dass of Ajit Gill near Jaitu now has iterated. "The child's mother brought her back as routine and then noticed her to have a serious eye inflammation. I first took the girl to Jaitu, where she was referred to Bathinda, where doctors operated upon her ultimately."
Anganwadis, meaning courtyard shelters, are government-sponsored child-care and mother-care centres in the country.
On coming back from Bathinda, Dass had raied the matter in the village and. "Kamaljeet Kaur agreed to pay all the expenses for treatment," he said. "Now three months later, she has backtracked, seeing that the case it too old. I am having to struggle for justice." An inquiry is pending, but the authorities have asked Dass to produce witnesses. How can I arrange witnesses after three months, especially when the villager don't want to invite the wrath of the worker's influential family."
"I did not slap the girl at all," said Kamaljeet Kaur. "It was a toy that wounded the girl' eye. I steamed it and the scratch wasn't serious. The girl left with her mother and something at home might have hit her in the eye. Bhagwan Dass wants more money out of me even after I spent about Rs 6000 on his child's treatment out of sympathy."
The anganwadi worker said villagers with political interests had provoked Dass to harass her by blowing the matter out of proportion. She blames the child's near loss of eyesight on the negligence of her parents. "The anganwadi worker failed to both send the girl away for medical aid and inform the parents promptly," said Dass.
Amarjeet Kaur, children's development project officer of Kotkapura, had let the worker off with a warning. "The worker did not slap the child," she said. "It was the girl's cousin who did it." On further probing, she accepted that the anganwadi worker had been negligent in handling the situation involving a child under her supervision."
Deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat has asked the additional DC inquiry and senior superintendent of police to investigate and arranged to get the girl treated. "The parents' request for financial help has been forwarded to the government," he said. "The matter is serious and I await the inquiry report."
On September 10, Bhagwan Dass also sent complaints to the police authorities, including the director general of police (DGP).