Girl got injured accidentally: Stepmother
Aarti Thakur, Menaka's stepmother, had initially told the police that the burn injuries and abrasions on the seven-year-old's body due to an accident and she was not responsible for them.
"In the initial interrogation, Aarti said that the girl got singed as she had dropped hot water on herself. She got bruised when she fell off the staircase," said Vishwanath Shelar, assistant inspector, Dharavi police station.
When pressed further, Aarti confessed to her crime. Dhananjay Kulkarni, deputy commissioner of police (zone V), said:
"Aarti later told us that she would compel Menaka to do household chores such as sweeping, cleaning and washing utensils. As the girl is too young, she could not do the work properly, following which Aarti said that she would assault her."
Aarti also told the police that she was not very fond of Menaka because she was her stepchild.
"Aarti admitted that she would beat the girl up with a wooden stick and brand her with hot spoons if she made mistakes," said Kulkarni.
Sumit Thakur, Menaka's father, told the police that the child had complained to him about the assault on several occasions.
"Sumit told us that Menaka complained at least thrice in the past two months about being beaten up and branded by Aarti. Instead of paying attention, Sumit shouted at the girl for speaking ill of her mother," said Kulkarni.
Sources in the Dharavi police station said that Aarti begged the policemen to release her.
"Aarti said that she would be fine if the policemen would beat her up with wooden sticks or brand her with hot spoons, provided they released her after the assault," said an official, requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Aarti was released on Thursday evening on a bail of Rs 1,000.