The Salem city police, on Tuesday, arrested a businessman for allegedly buying a seven-year-old child from her parents Latha* and Manoj*, who have also been nabbed. The arrests came after the police were alerted by the child’s grandmother who alleged that her daughter Latha had sold the child to Krishnan for Rs 10 lakh. The girl has been rescued and placed under the custody of the District Child Protection services.
According to Santosh Kumar, the Commissioner of Salem city police, Latha was working as a domestic worker in Krishnan’s house for the past two years. Fifty-three-year-old Krishnan is a wealthy businessman in Salem and is a socialite who is part of a well-known club in the city. He has been separated from his wife for a few years. Latha's husband Manoj is an alcoholic and does not have a regular income. The couple have three children -- two girls aged 10 and seven and a boy aged six. Latha was the sole breadwinner of the family.
On Monday evening, the police got a call from Latha’s mother, who accused her of having sold her seven-year-old daughter to Krishnan for Rs 10 lakh. “We immediately went there and investigated the accusation. The girl child was living with Krishnan for the past 6-7 months. In preliminary investigation, we have not found that Latha received any money from Krishnan for the child. She said that Krishnan wanted to give the child a good education. We immediately rescued the child and sent her to the District Child Protection officer’s custody,” he said.
When asked whether any money was involved in the case, Santosh Kumar said, “Latha’s sister has allegedly got Rs 1.5 lakh from Krishnan, but that also she is paying some monthly interest. So we understand it is a loan. Apart from this, as of now, no money trail has been discovered.” The police, on Monday, arrested Latha, Manoj and Krishnan under sections 80 [Punitive measures for adoption without following prescribed procedures] and 81[[Any person who sells or buys a child for any purpose shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine of one lakh rupees] of the Juvenile Justice Act and sections 370-A [Whoever, knowingly or having reason to believe that a minor has been trafficked, engages such minor for sexual exploitation in any manner] and 372 [Selling minor for purposes of prostitution] of the IPC.
“The child has, till now, not said or revealed anything about any sexual activity involving her. She is a very young child. So we are taking the help of child psychologists and NGOs that have experience in working in such issues to make sure she is alright. If any such revelations come from her, we will follow due procedures, conduct medical examination etc and add POCSO provisions on the accused,” Santosh Kumar added. He also said that if Krishnan was indeed concerned about the child’s future, he could have resorted to formal adoption of the child or even sponsored her education in a good school.
Police investigation is underway in the case.
(*Names changed to protect identity of the child)