Enraged by his daughter's performance in Class VII exams, a father forced a girl to beg in her school uniform in front of a city temple.
As the 12-year-old girl, from a reputed school, sat weeping in front of a temple on Monday night, she caught the attention of MP Varsha, an NGO worker, who took her to a police station. There, she told her story: she was being punished by her father for not doing well in exams.
The father was arrested and a case registered against him under the Juvenile Justice Act. Angry neighbours damaged his car. He admitted he made his daughter beg in front of a temple. "My intention was to teach her the hardships of life," he told cops.
"My father used to shout at me every day for getting out of bed late and not scoring good marks. He was very angry yesterday and gave me an aluminum bowl before forcibly making me beg near a temple," she told cops.
On Tuesday, the man got a bail. Sources close to the family said he is now unwilling to accept the girl saying she has "spoilt his reputation". The girl is now with the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which decided to keep her in a juvenile home until the issue was resolved. On Tuesday, she went to her school accompanied by a CWC staffer.
CWC chairman N T Venkatesh said the girl appeared cheerful at the juvenile home. "She looks normal and wants to be reunited with her father. But without verifying facts, we can't send her back." Venkatesh said the girl's mother's whereabouts are unverified.
"She is a little weak in her studies but is trying her best. Monday's incident was unpleasant. All students are not alike and each has their own intelligence. Teachers and parents should understand and try to encourage them," said the school principal.
This shocking incident raises an important issue - should we, as a society, continue to maintain that how parents 'discipline' their children is for the family to decide. Or is it time we had something akin to the child welfare system that most developed countries have? Clearly, there are cultural specificities that mark out one country from another and blindly aping a Western construct might not work. Still, in India too what was earlier assumed to be in the realm of the personal or the family is increasingly entering the public sphere. Laws on domestic violence or the duty of offspring to take care of their parents are some examples. Perhaps we need to push the envelope just a little further to protect child rights.