The rescued child labourer was placed in the facility for ‘care and protection'
Recently rescued from a sweatshop where he was employed along with 31 other underage workers, a 14-year-old boy was allegedly assaulted by the warden of the state-run facility where he had been placed for care and protection.
The attack allegedly by the warden of the Children's Home for Boys resulted in the victim, who is from Bihar, temporarily losing control of his right hand.
The assault, which took place around a week ago, was discovered on Tuesday by members of the NGO which rescued the 32 boys in September from a bag making unit.
“We were visiting the facility to check on the boys when we found one of them in extreme pain,” said one of the NGO members. It was on their intervention that the authorities of the facility, which comes under the Department of Women and Child Development, sent the boy for medical treatment.
The only medical attention he received since the assault included some over-the-counter pain killers and some ointment on the wound.
Interestingly, the authorities of the facility told the hospital authorities that he had slipped in the bathroom and fell. But the boy told The Hindu: “I was beaten with a staff by Suresh bhaiyya (the warden) because I made a mistake.” The man he identified as his assailant has been hired on a contract basis as the State Government has not hired regular and trained employees.
When The Hindu visited the boys' home, a man who identified himself as the Deputy Superintendent but refused to reveal his name, made all attempts to mislead this reporter. He initially said that the boy did not exist and then began to say that no such incident had occurred.
M.R. Mamatha, member of the Karnataka Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said after visiting the victim that he had swelling on his arm and had a blood clot. She said that the boy and the authorities of the facility gave conflicting versions of the incident. She said the boys should have been sent back home long ago. But that had not been done as there is not enough staff to escort them to their home States such as Bihar and West Bengal.
The state government should hire regular staff who are sensitive to the needs of the children. Third, this is not the first time that a child has been assaulted by the caretakers. Corporal punishment is a way of life for the boys in the home, she said.