An eight-year-old boy suspected of theft was forced to sit on hot tiles as punishment at Arvi in Maharashtra's Wardha district on Saturday. He has been admitted to a local hospital with burns.
Police have arrested the accused, identified as 32-year-old Amol Dhore, and charged him under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act-1989.
According to reports, the boy was playing on the premises of the Jogona Mata temple in Arvi on Saturday when he was accosted by Amol Dhore, who accused him of stealing coins from its donation box. He then tied his hands and allegedly forced him to sit on hot tiles stacked on the temple yard. The accused was taken into custody on the basis of a complaint filed by the boy's father.
The incident was criticised by social activists as well as opposition politicians. "We condemn this incident. We will raise it in the state assembly," Nationalist Congress Party leader Dhananjay Munde told NDTV.
Incidents of children being assaulted on suspicion of theft and minor offences is fairly common across the country. Last September, a 16-year-old boy was beaten to death by residents of northwest Delhi's Mukundpur area after he allegedly entered a house to steal valuables.
According to police, a woman resident allegedly saw the teenager make his way to the second floor of the house along with two others. His companions fled when she raised the alarm, leaving him behind. Three people were arrested in connection with the murder.
The same year, an 11-year-old boy was hospitalised after the headmaster of a school in Dehradun assaulted him with an iron rod for complaining about the "poor quality" of its mid-day meals. A probe was initiated after the child's father lodged a police complaint.
(With inputs from Agencies)