Police started an enquiry after a video, purportedly showing an eight-year-old boy tied to a tree and two employees of Ladhowal toll plaza on Ludhiana-Jalandhar road (National Highway-1) – who apparently tied him – standing near him, went viral on Saturday. According to a commuter, who reportedly shot the video, the men also snatched money from the boy, who is from a nearby slum and begs at the toll plaza, before he rescued him on February 28.
In the video, the two men were purportedly being questioned by the man who was shooting the scene. On being questioned, why they tied the boy’s hands, one of the employees replied that he lives in nearby slums and comes daily at the toll plaza to beg from the commuters. He further says that vehicles are always speeding on the national highway and "there is always a risk of children being hit". He goes on to argue that since they are "answerable" to their company owners who run the toll plaza, they have to keep the children out of vehicle lanes.
However, on being questioned that with whose permission or authority, they tied the child, both the employees fail to give any answer and say they are ready to apologise. Later, the man, shooting the video, also tells them to return the money they allegedly snatched from the boy. The child in the video is seen quiet throughout and rubs his wrists in relief after being untied.
The phone of the toll plaza manager, C S Rathore, was switched off since evening. Another toll plaza employee told The Sunday Express that he is not authorised to give any official statement.
On condition of anonymity, he, however, said they get strict sometimes as the speeding vehicles might hit the children. "Then also we will be blamed. However, tying a child’s hands was completely wrong and the company has initiated action against both the employees. They have been told to give an explanation and fired."
Inspector Sandeep Singh, SHO of Ladhowal police station, said they contacted the parents of the child after seeing the video, but they have refused to file any formal complaint. "Both the parents are laborers and live in slums nearby. We have issued strict warning to the toll plaza employees that such action should not be repeated in future," said the SHO.
"It was a crime to tie a child’s hands and hold him captive. It is true that vehicles are always speeding on the national highway and children might get crushed. The toll employees told us that they had also visited the slums many times and spoke to the parents to keep children home, but they do not listen. We called the parents of the boy today (Saturday) and they have recorded a statement that they do not want any formal complaint lodged. The company has informed us that both the employees who tied the child have been fired," said the SHO.