Oct 22, 2020
The death of a Dalit domestic worker in the posh residence of her upper-caste Delhi-based employer and the subsequent manner in which the Delhi Police handled the case has now triggered outrage online, with several accusing the authorities of ‘impropriety and wrongdoing’.
The incident first came to light when The Caravan magazine reported the death of the 17-year-old, who worked as a domestic help at an upper-caste household in Delhi.
According to the magazine, the girl was found hanging at the Bansal residence on October 4, and her foster mother, Kusum, has since then been fighting to register an FIR in the case. This has proved challenging since the police have already ruled the teen’s death as a case of “simple suicide” despite forensic investigations being pending, the magazine reported.
Kusum and her family, who belong to the lower-caste Nishad community, have even tried to seek help from the local MLA and the Delhi Commission of Women, but their pleas fell to deaf ears.
A video on the in-depth coverage of the incident by the magazine dives a bit deeper into the death of the 17-year-old Dalit house help.
Kusum, the girl’s foster mother, said that she had left her girl at the residence of her employer on September 26 for work at half-past-11. “Our girl began working on 25-26 September and on 4 October, she was murdered,” she said.
Kusum narrated that at 4:30 PM on the fated day, she had received a call from her foster daughter pleading to take her back. “Please take me with you, I don’t like it here,” — these were the girl’s last words to her foster mother Kusum, reported The Caravan.
An hour later, Kusum got a call from the employer, who asked her to take her foster daughter back since she had, apparently, “locked herself inside the driver’s room”. Kusum reached the residence only to be overwhelmed by the presence of the police personnel at the site. Later, she was asked to “go meet” her foster daughter inside the driver’s room, where the 17-year-old was hanging.
According to Kusum, there were “torture” marks on her foster daughter’s body. “There were ulcer-like things and a blood clot. Her armpit also had a mark. Her back also had one, like someone had hit her with something,” said the girl’s foster mother on the verge of crying.
For the entirety of the report, she goes on to narrate an ordeal that would raise questions over the entire manner in which the police handled the case. Kusum said that her foster daughter’s body was brought down, paperwork filed, and cremated without even letting the family know or involving them in any step of the process.
Moreover, the employer, Drupadi Bansal had also allegedly asked Kusum to misreport the girl’s age to the police, in an apparent bid to falsify the case.
Kusum maintains that her foster daughter was raped and murdered, with the hasty work done by the police as a cover-up under bribe. She accuses Renu Mittal, Drupadi Bansal, Atul Bansal, and the driver of being parties to the crime.
“We want justice for our girl,” the deceased girl’s aunt said while making her plea to the magazine’s reporters, “Because we are not safe in the houses we have to go for work.”
Caste-based violence in India has always been a major issue at the forefront of political debates. The death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman, gang-raped in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras last month, had only just received widespread media attention and condemnation from across the country. While the case raises contentions on lawlessness in rural UP, reports of such crimes at the heart of India’s national capital, Delhi, are indicative of troubling concerns.