Every neighbourhood has its monsters: Aligarh killing horrific reminder of a stark reality

Two-and-a-half-year-old Twinkle Sharma's brutal murder shook the entire nation. People took to the streets and social media erupted in anger. However, parents of young children are now wondering what should they be doing to protect their children from such monsters who are lurking in every street

Shivani GuptaShivani Gupta   13 Jun 2019 12:56 PM GMT

Every neighbourhood has its monsters: Aligarh killing horrific reminder of a stark reality

"What happened in Aligarh has shaken me. Sadly, such people live around us. It's important that parents are alert all the time," said Nimki Yadav, 34, who lives in Madanpur village in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh.

She has a ten-year-old daughter. On May 3, merely 400 kms away from Barabanki, a mother lost her toddler in a horrific way. The incident shook the entire nation.

Two-and-half-year-old Twinkle Sharma, who lived in Tappal village in Aligarh district, went out to play on May 30 at 8:30 am. It was the last time her parents, Banwari Lal Sharma and Shilpa Sharma, saw their only daughter alive. 48-hours later, her decomposed, maggot-infested body was dragged out of a garbage dump near her house by street dogs, who ravaged her body further.

Gaon Connection got in touch with psychologists and psychiatrists to understand what prompts adults to inflict such horrible crimes on young children and measures that parents should take to protect their children from such people.

The little girl's autopsy report revealed that her eyes were popping out, right arm had been cut off, left leg, ribs, nose were fractured and the corpse nibbled by insects and rodents, in some parts down to her bone. Some findings of post mortem report mention "skin peeling, smashed nose bridge, kidneys not found, urinary bladder not found, left leg fracture, right arm missing, left side of chest exposed from back."

"Accused had previously raped his own daughter"

"It is very much apparent that the culprit was deviated from normal behaviour," said Dr Neha Anand, chief psychological counsellor at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow.

"The kind of brutalities that were inflicted on the young girl proves that the accused is brainsick. Such behaviour patterns do not emerge all of a sudden. He must have displayed schizophrenic behaviour in the past too. Personality traits play a key role," she added.

Dr Devashish Shukla, head of the psychiatry department at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Lucknow, said: "People who commit such crimes often suffer from mental illness. When we assist in solving such cases, we always come across psychotic disturbances among them, acute sexual desire, for one."

Anand elaborated that women -- not only in India, but worldwide-- are perceived as sex objects. "It is very important to understand that women are not toys to play with," she said.

According to Aligarh police, the child was abducted by two men, Zahid and Aslam, who then tortured and murdered her. The duo owed her grand-father Rs 10,000 and had an argument with him just two days before. In the heat of the argument, they had warned him that they would teach him a lesson.

"If the Aligarh murder case underlines some revenge of the culprit from the family then it reveals his psychotic disorder. Killing a minor brutally reflects his mental illness," added Shukla.

One of the two accused, Zahid, brutally choked Twinkle with a dupatta (scarf) and hid her body in a house in a straw bag. After three days, when the corpse started emitting a foul smell, he threw Twinkle in a pile of trash.

Aslam, the co-accused, had allegedly raped his own seven-year-old daughter few years back.

"Behavioural changes in kids should not be ignored"

Though the Aligarh police has arrested all the four accused, but for parents of young children, the nightmare of protecting their children round the clock just got real.

Experts we spoke to said there are certain change in behavioural pattern that child who has faced abuse will display and parents must not ignore them.

"They go into a shell all of a sudden. Such kids don't feel like eating and are irritable and disturbed. They will also stop playing and not sit with family members. If a child is reticent and does not open up easily, then parents should not ignore these hints. However, if the kid is an introvert, then it is necessary that parents have a word with them and teach them about bad touch and encourage them to share it," explained Anand.

"Teach them about good touch, bad touch"

According to the National Crime Records Bureau's (NCRB) data, released in 2016 last, there was a spike in cases of rape against children and overall crimes against children.

Incidents of rape of children saw an increase by over 82% in 2016 compared to 2015. In nearly 95% rape cases, accused is known to victim, revealed the NCRB data.

"We see our relatives kiss and fondle our kids and parents do not object to that. This should not be encouraged. Parents should be strict enough to inform their kids that nobody can touch them or kiss them," said Anand.

"Kids these days are smart enough to operate gadgets independently. We should definitely teach them how to protect themselves," she added.

Experts insists that parents should teach their children about good touch and bad touch.

"I always ask my daughter to strictly say no to someone who offers her a chocolate or toffees. It is not possible for us to keep an eye on them all the time. I have told her to run away or raise an alarm if she senses something amiss. She attends dance classes. I tell her to complain to her teachers if someone touches her inappropriately,"said Yadav, who has a 10-year-old daughter.

School have an important role to play too

"There are many audio visuals available on YouTube about good touch and bad touch. Also, those parents who have school-going children, they should follow a code between them. For instance, when someone goes to pick your kid up, then the kid should be trained to remember the code that parents share with him/her. If the person fails to reveal the code, the child should refuse to go with that person," added Anand.

Parents should tell their kids about child helpline number 1098, says Anand.

Manoj Kannojiya, minister of Primary Teacher's Association in BKT Block, Lucknow, said: "Although the onus is on the government to look after safety measures of children in primary schools, we do not depend upon them.After the vacations get over, we will conduct awareness lectures during regular morning prayers. We can't hire self-defence trainers for our kids because we can't afford that. However, we do get help from NGOs."

Both in villages and cities, we find working parents who have to leave their kids behind. Many parents don't have an option to leave their kids in crèches or with neighbours or relatives.

Anand said: "If parents leave their kids in crèche, they should make sure that cameras installed there are functional. They should also do a background check on managers and employees of the crèche," said Anand.

"Our education system is redundant. They are not giving them practical knowledge. If teachers and parents do not teach their kids about anger management, then their syllabus is of no use,"concludes Anand.

You can watch a film on Child Sexual Abuse by ChildLineIndia in the video below:

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