A 14-year-old tribal girl was rescued from a house in a town on the outskirts of Ranchi, where she had allegedly been kept chained in a dark room over the last 11 months.
The rescue at the Chanho Block house was carried out on Saturday evening by officials of the Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, whose member said the ordeal was unprecedented in its brutality. The girl was chained allegedly by her stepfather.
“Some trafficked Jharkhand girls have been kept in similar condition by their employers and placement agents in Delhi and Mumbai in the past. But we haven’t come across any such case in Jharkhand before,” said Sanjay Mishra, senior member, JSCPCR.
Jharkhand has seen several cases of child abuse within families, which are increasing in frequency, but cases of brutal treatment at home are rare.
The girl’s stepfather, however, has said that the minor was mentally retarded, which prompted him to keep her in shackles.
Hindustan Times cannot disclose the father’s name since a first information report is yet to be lodged with the police.
The offender, in his mid-forties, is also an alleged habitual drunkard.
The girl was kept in shackles throughout the day and night, allowed only to eat meals served in the dark room at the backyard of the house, members of the rescuing team said.
“She did not appear to be mentally-challenged. I asked her if she wants to study and she said she always wanted to go to school but was stopped by her stepfather,” said Mishra.
The minor has been sent to the Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Sciences (RINPAS) for medical tests.
The child district protection officer has been directed to probe the case and share his findings with the commission within 24 hours, JSCPCR members said.
The minor has marks of iron chains on her wrists and legs; however, there were no major injury marks on her body, eliminating chances of physical or sexual abuse, said Mishra.
“As of now we have not diagnosed any serious mental ailment in her. However, she is under stress due to the torture she has been subjected to,” said Dr AK Nag, medical superintendent, RINPAS.
The rescued minor will be sent to a government school if RINPAS says she doesn’t require medical attention. However, in case she is found suffering from mental ailments, she would be given free treatment at RINPAS, commission members said.
RINPAS has sought a time of 15 days to submit a detailed report on her medical condition. Legal actions would be taken against the alleged offender if the girl is found to be mentally stable, JSCPCR officials said.