Authorities raided an orphanage in Keezhakuyilkudi near Nagamalai Pudukottai where a six-year-old girl was allegedly branded with hot candle wax.

District Child Protection Unit officials swooped on the orphanage on Thursday and rescued eight girls, aged between 6 and 8, who were allegedly subjected to physical abuse.

The plight of the girls came to light on Wednesday when a class teacher noticed a scar on a child’s arm, which the girl said was caused by hot candle wax as a punishment for being late.

The teacher mentioned it to her husband who in turn alerted the child helpline.

The rescued children have been moved to another home.

A team comprising officials from the district child protection unit, anti-human trafficking unit of the rural police, child welfare committee and staff from the child helpline inspected the orphanage where the children were said to have been compelled to perform domestic chores in unhygienic conditions.

Preliminary enquiries revealed that 37-year-old Mark Kannan of Nagamalai Pudukottai ran the orphanage for the past two years without proper authorisation. The source of funding to the orphanage is under investigation.

“Though the orphanage employed eight staff to do household chores, the children were forced to wash dishes as well as clothes,” alleged Jim Jesudass, director of Vidiyal, where the children are housed presently.

Nagamalai Pudukottai police have registered an FIR against Kannan on charges of hurting, criminal intimidation and under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2002.

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