Five-year-old Preeti's last memory of her mother will be her bruised, battered body held together inside a white sheet, the face swollen with blood clots and injuries. Preeti went with the police to the AIIMS mortuary to identify the body, after it had lain there for almost a week.
Preeti’s mother — Meenakshi alias Meenu (27) — died after the taxi she was in was hit by a Mercedes convertible near Africa Avenue on June 3. The man behind the wheel, Dinesh Singh Tanwar (26), the son of a rich politician, was also reportedly drunk. He fled the scene leaving the woman to die. He was arrested later but was out on bail within minutes.
Preeti and her two siblings Shivam (2) and Saina (1) had no clue where their mother was.
Meenakshi’s husband had abandoned the family three years back. For a number of days while the police tried to track down Meenakshi’s family, Preeti had to take responsibility for her brother and sister.
“There is no one in our house so I cooked food when mother was away. I can make rice and vegetables,” Preeti said.
“I fed that to my youngest sister also,” she said.
A couple of days before she died in the car crash, the victim had bought new clothes for her children.
“She had got sarees for herself and two new sets of clothes for each one of us. We were happy. When she did not return home for two days I called on her mobile phone,” said Preeti. The call predictably did not go through all day.
“Finally on Monday night some man picked up the phone and said my mother was with them,” said Preeti. It was a policeman.
The next day two officers came to Preeti’s one room home at a slum cluster in Wazirpur area of northeast Delhi and asked her to identify her mother’s body.
“I could barely recognise her. She had marks and bruises all over her body and her face was swollen. I could not look at her after that,” said Preeti.
She was wearing the new dress her mother had bought for her. The children have now been put in a government welfare home but their fate is uncertain. No relative has come up to support them.
Police said they were looking for the father.
“We have formed teams to trace the father and are also trying to contact their maternal uncle in Badayun in Uttar Pradesh. We want them in safe hands,” said HGS Dhaliwal, deputy commissioner of police (south).