The tattered pieces of the shirt worn by one-year-old Vallabh Venu bear testimony to his gruesome end. The amulet, which ironically was tied around the child’s neck to ward off evil, was broken and resting nearby. There were dark smudges at several places nearby, a telltale sign of the child’s blood possibly getting soaked by the soil.

It was Monday afternoon and the tattered pieces of the shirt worn by one-year-old Vallabh Venu were still lying near a freshly dug borewell, just a few metres away from the hut in which the child had spent the last night of his life with his parents. The amulet, which ironically was tied around the child’s neck to ward off evil, was broken and resting nearby. There were dark smudges at several places nearby, a telltale sign of the child’s blood possibly getting soaked by the soil.

In the wee hours of Monday, a tractor driver, who came to unload construction material at a nearby site, spotted four stray dogs, which had surrounded the child’s body. According to the driver, the child was unconscious, had dog bites all over the body, bruised, mauled, bleeding and his clothes were torn into pieces. The driver raised an alarm and rushed to the nearby hut hoping to wake the inmates to get help.

When the parents, Mahesh (24) and Shobha (20), were woken up, they refused to believe that their child was hurt. “I asked them whether the injured child was theirs. Initially, they refused to acknowledge, but gradually they accepted the reality. It was shocking to see a small helpless child in such a condition. The dogs showed no mercy,” recalled the tractor driver Ramesh.

The mother was shocked. “How can this happen to our child in the middle of the night? I was sleeping and could not even hear my child’s cries of help. There were occasions when our children used to feed the stray dogs and now the dogs have killed my child,” she says. The family was living in the hut just opposite to the house which is under construction.

“Mahesh was the watchman for the under-construction building. During daytime, he either used to work here or go to other construction sites for work while his wife used to work as domestic help. The locality has a large number of stray dogs and seldom anybody from the municipality comes to catch them,” says Rani, a domestic help in the colony.

The couple, who are daily labourers, were so poor that they did not have enough money to purchase and install a proper wooden door for the hut, which had just enough space to accommodate two adults and a child. In place of a door, the couple had tied a flimsy curtain made out of jute bag at the entrance, which probably emboldened the dogs to sneak into the hut at night.

The neighbourhood of New Hanuman Nagar, Nagaram, five kilometres from ECIL crossroads, is a hub of real estate activity and attracts daily labourers from nearby districts. It was just two years ago when Mahesh and Shobha had decided to leave their native Gajwel, Medak district and shift to Nagaram for livelihood.

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