Malti Patra was saved because of the vermilion on her forehead. A native of West Bengal, Patra had never imagined she would be picked up by the police of her own country on charges of being a Bangladeshi migrant.
But this is exactly what happened to Patra and her neighbour Khalil Ahmed on January 6. Patra was alone at her rented house waiting for her husband to return from work. Around 3.30 a.m. somebody knocked on the door and when she opened it a woman police constable forced her into a police vehicle standing outside.
In the vehicle, she found that her co-tenant, Khalil Ahmed and his family members, had also been forcibly put in the vehicle. Thanks to her vermilion, which the police noticed later, she was let off the next day.
Patra has now sent a letter to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram alleging that though she and her neighbours live in Faridabad, they were forcibly taken to a police station in Delhi. The Home Ministry has also ordered an inquiry into this.
A traumatized Patra told HT, “They have made my life hell. I feel so humiliated both at home and in the neighbourhood. They cooked up a story that I am a Bangladeshi. Will they restore my damaged reputation?”
Patra works as a domestic help and her employer S. Sengupta’s family helped her lodge a complaint.
SSP Faridabad Srikant Jadhav said, “I have made it clear to Delhi Police that had they informed us, the issue would not have snowballed into a controversy.”