Thanks to the intervention of a hawk-eyed class teacher at the Dehu Road Cantonment Board run primary school’s kindergarten section, an innocent four-year-old girl has been saved from the continuous torment she suffered at the hands of her father.
Just days into the new academic year in mid-June, Nishat Shaikh, the teacher, sensed that something was amiss with a diminutive girl who sat aloof in the classroom. Shaikh found that unlike her other students, who were mischievous and chirpy, this girl appeared unusually scared.
Four-year-old Preeti (name changed to protect her identity), Shaikh realised, refused to mingle with her classmates. The girl didn’t speak unless spoken to and it appeared that she preferred to be left alone.
Shaikh cajoled the distressed girl and asked her what the problem was. “Humne khana nahi khaya, Papa hume bahot marte hai,” (I have not had any food, Papa beats me badly) Shaikh heard Preeti mumble.
That very day, when Kiran, Preeti’s mother, arrived to receive her daughter from school, Shaikh told her about her conversation with Preeti and asked whether it was true. What the teacher got to learn was a story of a heartless father who was unable to reconcile with the birth of a girl child who, he believed was an ill-omen in his life.
Kiran told Shaikh that she has not stopped cursing herself for bearing a girl child because life has been a nightmare for both. She was subjected to insults and torture, both mental and physical, by her life-partner Pappu Kantilal Gupta merely because of Preeti’s birth.
A sobbing Kiran also told Shaikh how her husband was unhappy with the news of Preeti’s birth. His fall from a ladder on the same day added to his anger. He blamed the child for all his misfortunes.
Kiran narrated how Preeti has been cowering in fear from the man who she called papa. Given her age, she was unable to fathom why her father was unwilling to hold her in his arms and instead, would derive pleasure by inflicting wounds on her frail body. Kiran’s husband would turn suddenly violent and start thrashing Preeti.
Such was his fury that at times he would fling her towards the wall or on the floor. Her crying too failed to melt his heart. Sometimes Kiran felt he wanted to get rid of her. Kiran took solace in the fact that Preeti did not suffer any fatal injuries.
Shaikh coaxed Kiran to go to the cops but Preeti stopped coming to school from the next day. When she did come back after about a month Shaikh spotted bruises on the girl’s forehead and an arm seemed broken. Kiran had hoped he would mend his ways some day. But that was not to happen.
“Once he even confessed to having this mental problem for he which took psychiatric help but that didn’t work either as he wouldn’t take medicines. Once I approached the police when my husband broke Preeti’s left arm.
But he was let off with a mere warning.” Kiran told Shaik. Shaikh then asked Kiran to lodge a police complaint. “Do this if only for your daughter’s sake,” Shaikh told her and asked her to meet DCB medical officer Yamini Adbe, also achild right activist. Initially, Kiran lacked the courage to heed this advise but later, when Pappu turned violent again, she went to Adbe.
After examining Preeti’s injuries, Adbe directed them to Dehu Road Police Station, where a a non-cognizable offence against Pappu was registered. Speaking toMirror, Shaikh said, “I felt that they needed to be rescued but they had nowhere to go. Since I knew Dr Adbe, I asked Kiran to meet her.”
Meanwhile, Adbe is trying to rehabilitate the mother-child duo. For the moment, they have been provided temporary accommodation. Both Shaikh and Adbe are also looking to get suitable employment for Kiran so that she can become self-dependent.
► He once confessed to having a mental problem for which he took psychiatric help but that didn’t work either as he wouldn’t take medicines
- Kiran, Preeti’s, Mother