The young girls on the run reveal a murder, child trafficking
MANGALORE: Three intoxicated street children found snorting handkerchiefs soaked in petrol and wandering aimlessly near Ambedkar Circle (Jyothi Circle) here were rescued by some local people and handed over to the District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) late on Friday night.
The children are siblings and have been identified as Sheila (9), Ammu (7) and Shilpa (5). They have been admitted to a short-stay home for distressed children under the care of the CWC.
In startling revelation, the sisters told the CWC members that their father, Shivanna, killed their mother, Chandramma, two years ago by crushing her head with a boulder. He also sold their brother, Raju (4), for money.
While the two younger girls barely speak, Sheila went on to add that she could show where her mother’s body was buried and identify the person to whom her brother was sold.
According to the Juvenile Justice Act, said CWC member Geo D’Silva, the statement given to the CWC enjoys the same status as an FIR (first information report) registered by the police.
“My father killed my mother and sold my brother Raju to a security guard for a lot of money. He would have sold us too, so we ran away,” said Sheila, speaking to The Hindu on Saturday.
Family torn apart
She also said her eldest brother Gopal is in jail for felony. Jail authorities confirmed this and said Gopal was a habitual offender who had spent several short stints in jail. Jail sources also added that he often talked about his three little sisters and a teenaged younger brother.
Asked if she had another older sibling, Sheila said, “Yes, his name is Babruvahana. He is in the remand home for theft.”
When CWC members cross-checked this claim they found out that Babruvahana was indeed in an Observation Home for juvenile delinquents managed by the Juvenile Justice Board and is 15 years old.
Sheila also said her two elder brothers took to petty crime and the sisters ran away only after her mother’s death.
She said she had studied up to the second standard, and her elder brothers went to school when their mother was alive. Although her elder brothers lived separate lives now, the five of them met occasionally. Her brothers also periodically gave the sisters some money.
Sheila said she and her sisters were often harassed and assaulted by fellow street people, shopkeepers, autorickshaw drivers and even policemen. It perhaps explained the look of terror on the girls’ faces when they were put in a police jeep and transported to the children’s home on Friday night.
When they were found, the girls were dressed like boys in shirts and trousers. Their hair was cropped short.
“You don’t know how some men are on the streets. They would have done bad things to us if they found out that we were girls,” said Sheila.
Sheila said they started snorting petrol, petroleum glue and other cheaply available intoxicants to overcome hunger pangs.
They were taught to snort these intoxicants by a group of children who also live on the street. “Thumba majaa banthu,” she said in Kannada, which roughly translates to “It was very enjoyable.”