New Delhi: While the nation prays for 2-year-old Falak, who is receiving treatment for severe injuries at AIIMS, it is the story of the 14-year-old teenage girl who brought the baby to the hospital that exposes the dismal state of a girl child in India.
It is not just the baby, but the teenager too, who is a victim of abuse. Police have arrested 4 people, including her father Vijender, for abusing her and pushing her into prostitution.
Fed up of the constant physical abuse by her alcoholic father, the 14-year-old ran away from her home in June last year, only to be caught in another vicious cycle of torture, sexual abuse and prostitution.
Said the landlady of the room where the girl stayed with her father, "He (Vijender) didn't even pay us the rent... He used to beat the girl up."
CNN-IBN asked a neighbour, who said, "I have seen with my own eyes how her father used to beat her up with a stick."
After escaping from home, the teenager was forced by another man, Sandeep, and a woman, Arti, into prostitution.
Sandeep allegedly raped her for 3 days before offering her to customers.
Months later, she met Rajkumar and the two started staying together in the slums of Mahipalpur.
In November 2011, Rajkumar brought baby Falak home. Initially she looked after the child, but when Rajkumar left them, the 14-year-old took her frustration out on Falak.
The distraught teenager told the Child Welfare Committee that on January 17, when "...the baby kept crying... out of anger, she slapped her 3-4 times... also bit her". She said Falak's head was injured when the baby "slipped in the bathroom, fell on her face, and hit her head on the edge of the bathroom".
Falak's doctors, however, rejected the statement claiming that the baby's wounds were far more severe, indicating the use of force on her.
It's a case of how one lost childhood almost led to ending another.
Even as we pray for Falak's health, we are looking at not one, but 2 victims in this story.