The Mandya district police have arrested a 35-year-old garment employee in Thalaghattapura on the outskirts of Bangalore for allegedly torturing a two-and-a-half-year-old girl.

Police said Hanumanthu, who is married and having children, was having an affair with Kavitha, a single mother of two children including the tortured girl. The accused, who wanted Kavitha to rid herself of the children if she wanted to stay with him, had allegedly burnt the girl with cigarette butts before handing her over to his aunt in Mandya.

The police have arrested the mother of the girl also on the charges of abetment. Kavitha, who works in a garment factory, was living with her aunt in Thalaghattapura along with her children – four-year-old son Akash and the girl - after she was deserted by her husband.

Hanumanthu is believed to have been forcing Kavitha to get rid of the children if she wanted to live with him. When Kavitha reluctantly agreed, Hanumanthu handed over her son Akash to his wife stating that he found the boy in a bus stand and similarly handed over the girl to his aunt. Hanumanthu allegedly tortured the girl when Kavitha resisted his pressure to part with the girl.

Hanumanthu's aunt, who noticed the burns on the child's body, took her to the hospital, whose staff alerted the police suspecting the nature of injuries.

The police who questioned the aunt found that it was Hanumanthu who handed over the baby to her. A massive manhunt was launched by the police on Tuesday to trace and nab him.

The child welfare committee of Mandya district said it will take care of the children.

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