New Delhi – Indian police Saturday arrested a television actress in Mumbai for allegedly beating and injuring her 10-year-old maid, news reports said. Urvashi Dhanorkar was accused of brutally assaulting Rameshwari, locking up the child at home and employing a minor as a labourer which is banned under Indian law, IANS news agency reported quoting a Mumbai police official. The victim, who had bruises and burn injuries, was sent for a medical examination and police were waiting for the reports, the official said.
Dhanorkar, a mother of two children, was picked up by the police after child protection activists lodged a complaint.
Dhanorkar’s lawyer said the charges were trumped up and the girl was scalded by water from a hot water tap she inadvertently opened and that the bruises were from bee stings.
Rameshwari was brought to Mumbai, capital of western state of Maharashtra, from Amravati district in April on the pretext that she would be sent to school, the police claimed.
However, she was forced to work as a maid at Dhanorkar’s home in an upmarket area of Andheri.
In their complaint the social activists said a week ago Dhanorkar had caught Rameshwari eating without permission and had banged her head against a wall, burnt her on her arms and then confined her to the house.
She was allowed to go out only a few days ago. Neighbours noticed the condition of the child and complained to the child protection workers who then took her to the police and lodged a complaint.
The battered child was shown on local television channels saying she was given insufficient food and was abused and tortured repeatedly over the past few months.
Dhanorkar was produced before a local magistrate and bailed out after posting a surety of 10,000 rupees, the police said.
It was the third instance of abuse of a domestic help in Mumbai’s Andheri area since June.
Actor Shiney Ahuja was nabbed for allegedly raping his maid servant in his Versova home in June. The following month, three activists of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena political party were arrested for gang-raping a minor domestic help in a garden in Andheri east.
Despite a law banning employment of children under 14 as domestic servants, large numbers of children work as servants in India and a majority of them are girls.
Poverty and lack of job opportunities for their parents are often the reasons why young girls are sent to work at better-off homes where they look after small children, wash dishes and mop floors.
The children often support entire families with their meagre earnings.
According to government figures, nearly 13 million children in the age group of 8 to 14 work as domestic servants, farm labour and in factories, workshops, shops and restaurants in India.
Sapa-dpa , August 22 2009