High drama unfolded at a day care centre in Kochi on Tuesday morning, where the police took a woman staffer into custody for allegedly assaulting a minor.
The police arrived at Kaliveedu Play School and Day Care Centre minutes after regional TV news channel Asianet News released footage of the woman staffer Mini beating a boy, who is reportedly one-and-a-half-years old. Kaliveedu is located in Palarivattom and works out of a house.
In the video, Mini can be seen shouting at the toddler who is sitting on a floor mat. "Why did you take this? Tell me why did you take this?" Mini can be heard asking the toddler, after which she repeatedly beats him with her hand.
On Tuesday morning, the toddlerâ€™s parents as well as parents of other children who go to the day care centre, confronted Mini outside the centre, in the presence of media persons. However, Mini refuted the allegations that she physically assaulted the child.
"I never behave rudely to the children. If I do, then will the children be ready to come to me?" Mini retorted. But, confronted with the video evidence, Mini tried to evade all questions.
Photo by: Haritha John
A parent, on condition of anonymity, told Asianet News that the children had been repeatedly physically assaulted by Mini. Some children even had bruises on their bodies. When questioned, Mini would say that the children hurt themselves while playing.
Seema (name changed), mother of a 2-year-old boy, told TNM that she has often found bruises on her son's body. "There used to be dark blue patches on his skin. And when I questioned the staff, they told me that the older children had hurt my child. The staff said that it was normal for the older kids to get into a fight with the younger ones."
There are 17 children in the day care centre. While most of them are below the age of four years, there are some children aged between four and five-and-a-half years, who go to the centre after school.
Seema alleged that it is the younger children below the age of four years, who are generally beaten, since the staff believe that the children wonâ€™t complain to their parents.
Some parents have also alleged that the staffer may have been dosing the children with cough syrup in order to make them sleep more. One parent Raju told TNM that his 2-year-old son tends to be asleep most of the time.
Photo by: Haritha John
Soon, childline officials and a team of police personnel arrived at the day care centre to question Mini. The police suspect that the centre lacks the necessary licences to run the facility. Mini maintained that the centre was run by a trust, but gave contrary statements to the police on the ownership of the centre, after which, she was taken into custody. She is believed to be the owner of the day care centre, though TNM was not able to independently verify this information.
Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain also arrived at the day care centre, and promised stringent action in the matter.
Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain / Photo by: Haritha John
"Necessary action will be taken after inspecting the centre and assessing the situation," she told TNM.