“I was beaten up by the doctor. Often my head was banged against the wall, like it happened three days ago. I was beaten up at night and woke up only to find my eye swollen”- This are the words of Renu a 11 year old girl who was working as a maid with Dr Aruna Bharti, a doctor with SGPGI’s Department of Anaesthesia in Lucknow.
Renu was also kept locked in a room for 24 hours so that she could keep her swollen face away from the public. But she had to work also and as soon as she got an opportunity she came out and started sweeping the stairs, finally a passing neighbour saw her and came to know about her plight, the matter was reported to Childline a NGO and Renu was taken by them.
A month ago, Renu was brought from Varanasi to Lucknow by her neighbour Bhaiyalal — whom she called her uncle — to take care of Bharti’s daughter Pavani, who is a student of Delhi Public School. “Even Pavani would frequently kick me. Sometimes the doctor hit me with a stick. My uncle had brought me here to work for Rs 1,000, but I have not received any money so far,” she added as per the report in the Indian Express.
The case has been registered under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 323 (causing hurt), 343 (wrongful confinement), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) of the IPC and various sections of Bonded and Child Labour Acts.
In the FIR, the SGPGI police outpost in-charge, Sub-Inspector Ram Vishal Ram, accused Bharti of torturing the girl, keeping her in confinement and treating her as bonded labourer.
Labour department officials, too, had visited the outpost and slapped a fine of Rs 20,000 on Bharti under the Bonded Labour Act. “Once the medical reports prove that Renu is below 14 years, we will lodge a case against the doctor,” said R B Lal, Divisional Deputy Labour Commissioner, Lucknow.
“An initial medical report of the girl indicates that she had contusion under the eyes and at the back. This means that there was minor bleeding under the skin due to physical assault. But none of her injuries are grave and will heal with time,” said Dr Rajesh Kumar of Balrampur Hospital, where she was taken for medical examination on Wednesday.
The culprit Doctor is absconding, but even if she is caught and punished there are many more Renu’s who are working as bonded labour and under much more harsher conditions. The tragedy is that it is a vicious circle, without any alternative source of income these Renus have no choice but to stick to their jobs, however meagre the pay might be, afterall something is better than nothing.
Elimination of poverty in a rational way without any frills and not an election gimmick can provide a solution. Each place has some areas which can be developed as an income generators, one can focus on those points and may be take a tiny step towards bettering the lives of such people so that there are no more Renu’s, Chottu’s in our society.