Beaten, burnt by stepdad, neighbours come to rescue

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Rekha Rani,

A few days ago, Bangalore Mirror had reported an incident where scores of people on the Mallya Hospital Road stretch mutely watched a woman struggle to save herself from three men who had hijacked her auto.

On Sunday, another scene of brutality was unfolding, but two persons stepped in without thinking of the personal consequences they might face.

Rekha Rani, a resident of Kalenagar on Bannerghatta Road, says an otherwise quiet Sunday evening was thrown into turmoil when she noticed two children staying in the adjacent house were covered in bruises. Working on instinct, she immediately raised an alarm in the neighbourhood. Another neighbour, C Muniraju, took the initiative of complaining to the Hulimavu police and registering an FIR, leading to the arrest of their step-father and timely treatment for the children.

Just a glimpse of Sanjay, 5, and his brother Vijay, 4, (both names changed) makes you shudder to think of the horrors they suffered. Lying on a bed at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health (IGICH), they have bruises on their legs, back, hands as well as burn injuries.

This is the punishment their step-father has meted out for an accident that occurred during play. “We were playing with a ball which hit the glass showcase, breaking it. Uncle got angry and beat me and my brother badly,” says Sanjay.

The uncle is their step-father, the man their mother married five months ago. Sitting at their bedside, mother Sudha Usha admits they are in a bad shape, but tries to justify her husband’s behaviour. “He takes good care of the children and hit them for their own good. It was not deliberate. They had broken the showcase glass and were %damaging the TV screen,” %says Usha.

The incident took place when Usha had gone out, leaving the children in the care of Kumar. Rekha had gone up to the terrace when she spotted the boys huddled up in the %bathroom with injuries all over their bodies.

“I asked the children what happened and they said they had been beaten and burnt by uncle,” says Rekha, who refused to ignore what she had seen. “I then confronted the couple and they got furious, saying I was interfering in their family affair. They started fighting with me, saying I had no right to question them about their children,” %she says.

Rekha realised the argument was going nowhere. So, she sidestepped and decided to alert the neighbours. One of them, Muniraju, informed the police.

According to doctors at IGICH, the children were brought in with multiple injuries, abrasions and burn marks. Sanjay had a fracture on the scalp, with a blood clot on the forehead, abrasion at the back of one hand and burn injury on the other. Bruises on his back, resulting from being beaten with a stick, had turned blue, he also had abrasions and burns on the buttocks and swelling in the legs. Vijay’s forearm and left leg were swollen and his right hand had burn injuries.

“The mother tried to give some lame excuses, but the older boy said he and his brother were beaten by their uncle. Their burn injuries indicate use of cigarette butts. We treated them for five days and the wounds are gradually healing. We are planning to discharge them in a day or two,’’ said a paediatrician.

A constable has been posted at the ward 24×7 for security purposes.

Usha, 26, was widowed about four years back when she was pregnant with Vijay. Originally from Krishnagiri, Usha remarried Kumar, 30. The electrical contractor was also a widower, without any children. She and her boys subsequently moved into Kumar’s house.

Muniraju, the complainant, says Kumar is quite unpopular in the area for his regular brawls, but Sunday’s incident has shocked everyone. “We did not even know there were children in the house. They would always be closeted inside. This is the most inhuman sight we saw,” he says.

“Though a few other neighbours were concerned, no one came forward to register a complaint as they didn’t want to get tangled up in police and court formalities,’’ says Muniraju, who runs an outdoor advertising agency.

Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Meena C Jain visited the children on Tuesday. The CWC is taking up the case along %with police. “The mother said she had gone out that day. %The kids were abused very badly and there are burn marks. We have also asked the police %to submit a detailed report% of the incident and subsequent %investigations,’’ Jain told Bangalore Mirror.

Besides, jurisdictional ACP Veerabhadre Gowda is also taking a personal interest in the case and made sure that the %children were taken to the %hospital to get immediate medical attention.

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