The police on Tuesday arrested Bhaujan Samaj Party MP Dhananjay Singh and his wife, Jagriti Singh, for their alleged involvement in the death of one of their domestic helps and assault of another at their residence in the capital city on Sunday night.
Jagriti, a dentist at New Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, was picked up for questioning earlier in the day after 17-year-old testified she beat him and Rakhi Bhadra, the deceased 35-year-old woman from West Bengal, on Sunday night with an iron rod, sticks, an iron and horns of a dead animal, police said. But instead of taking them to hospital, the accused, a dental surgeon, gave them first aid at home, said a police officer who didn’t want to be named.
This is the third time in less than a month that the capital city has seen a case of brutality against domestic helps making headlines. An airhostess was recently arrested for allegedly assaulting her 13-year-old domestic help. In another case, a senior executive in a multinational firm was jailed for brutally assaulting her teenage servant. The incidents underscore the government’s failure to enforce a law it brought earlier this year to end brutality against domestic helps, which are common in Indian cities but are rarely reported.
In the latest case, the police were informed about Rakhi’s death on Monday night though she is believed to have died in the morning. The police have confirmed injury marks were found on the maid’s head, arms, legs and chest.
Jagriti has been booked for murder, attempt to murder and for assaulting a juvenile. Her husband, a Lok Sabha MP from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, was booked for concealment of evidence.
The torture of the domestic helps had been going for many months, the 17-year-old has told the police. Their employer would beat them up with sticks, hit them with the antlers of a deer trophy hanging in the living room and even brand their private parts with a smouldering iron on a whim. As a punishment, she would also make them stand in the sun for long hours, the police said.
“On the morning of Diwali, Jagriti was supervising Rakhi as she cleaned the house,” said the officer. “Jagriti suddenly pounced on Rakhi, furious that she wasn’t dusting the living room properly.”
She pinned her to the ground and tried to strangle her before beating her up with a stick, he said. She threw her against the walls and finally pushed her down the stairs. “Rakhi didn’t get up after the Diwali day beating,” the officer said.
Refuting the charges, Jagriti’s husband said his wife had called him three days ago and said the maid had injured herself after a fall from the terrace of the house.
The police said they were currently scanning CCTV footage from a network of 20 cameras installed across the Singh residence.