Step-mothers can be nasty. Step-fathers brutal. Kailash Yati branded three-year-old Sanyam with cigarettes and tongs, bit the boy's private parts, shoved a chapatti roller up his rectum, broke his teeth with a screwdriver, thrashed and starved him just because he is his step-son.
The police arrested him on Friday from Sayla village in Rajasthan's Jalore district. He has been charged with attempt to murder.
The baby's mother Nidhi (24) told the police that Yati (37) would beat and tie her up if she tried to stop him. Brutalising his step-son isn't Yati's only vice. He is also a drug addict, a murderer and a robber, Nidhi told the police.
Sanyam was rescued on Wednesday after Yati left him so battered and bruised that he himself became scared and fled the house, giving Nidhi a chance to flee with the baby.
A shattered Nidhi reached her parental house in Jodhpur on Thursday. Relatives rushed Sanyam to the government-run Ummed Hospital. Doctors were shocked to see his injuries.
Sanyam┐s dad Kailash
'We found him in what in medical parlance is called the 'battered baby syndrome' that may adversely affect the brain,' Dr Pramod Sharma said.
The baby's haemoglobin level was also very low, the result of long spells of starvation. Battered child syndrome refers to injuries sustained by a child as a result of physical abuse, usually inflicted by an adult caregiver.
Internal injuries, cuts, burns, bruises and broken or fractured bones are all possible signs of battered child syndrome.
Nidhi had married Yati in 2001. Then she was only 14-years-old. She has a seven-year-old son from him. Harassed by Yati, she separated from him and married another man in 2007, giving birth to Sanyam.
Her second marriage to Padam Chand too did not last. They separated and she started living with her mother following the death of her father, who worked in the public health engineering department, three years ago.
'I was in a bad shape as Chand too started mistreating me. Around two months ago, Kailash approached me, regretted his past behaviour and expressed his desire to live with me,' she told Mail Today by phone.
'I was not very keen on living at my mother's place. Kailash too promised to make up, so I accepted his proposal and started living with him,' she said.
But soon she discovered that Yati was addicted to smack and opium and returned to his old habit of ill-treating her and Sanyam. As Nidhi told the police, her husband could not tolerate his step-son.
Nidhi further told the police that Yati was also involved in several crimes, including murder and robbery.
Yati, the self-styled chief of an organisation called the Shiv Sena Commando Force, is a quack and runs a clinic in the village. It is unclear if the organisation is related to the Shiv Sena. Jalore district superintendent of police Rahul Barhat said additional provisions of the Indian Penal Code would be invoked in the FIR once they get a medical report of Sanyam.