NEW DELHI: A 13-year-old maid, rescued on Thursday from a Dwarka home where she had been locked up for five days as her employers vacationed in Thailand, has told authorities that although there was food in the house she was warned not to touch it. CCTV cameras had apparently been placed to track her movements. Munni (name changed), who had allegedly starved for the past few days, said she had been left some flour and salt to eat by the doctor couple who lived in the Sector 6, Dwarka house. Some maids working in the housing complex – Hahnemann Apartments – had found the child crying in the balcony, which led to her rescue.
“There was food in the kitchen but before leaving for Bangkok they said the ration had been marked. ‘There is also a camera installed in the house. If anything falls short, we will beat you’,” the minor girl recalled her employers as saying, in her statement to a sub-divisional magistrate on Friday. An order passed by the Child Welfare Committee at Nirmal Chhaya complex, where Munni was taken on Friday, said she was beaten up by the couple on petty matters. “She was pinched, hit with scales and her hair had been pulled out. Half the hair on her head are small and the remaining are uneven,” it said.
Neighbours, Guards Were In The Know Of Teen’s Plight; FIR Lodged Against Couple
Desperate courage born of hunger, fear, loneliness and idle time to go over the horrors of seven months in bondage set Munni free on Thursday afternoon. The 13-year-old had been starving for days when she cried out for help from the balcony of her employers’ locked Dwarka apartment, exposing what many in the residential society had long suspected. Neighbours, guards and domestic helps, who were hesitant to talk to TOI at first, said Munni had probably faced violent treatment. A guard said he rarely saw the girl outside. “The one time I saw her, she had burn marks on her cheek.”
One of the domestic helps who heard Munni’s cries and called the police said the girl had related her plight from the balcony. “She told us the couple had left only atta and salt for her to eat while leaving on a vacation; they used to beat her over petty things, claw her, and drag her around by the hair”.
As the enfeebled girl pleaded from the balcony, officials and volunteers from the organization Shakti Vahini had a tough time getting her out. Police could not force open the locked door and called the fire department. Finally, Munni was brought down by a fire ladder. On Friday, the girl appeared before the sub-divisional magistrate and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which ordered the registration of an FIR against her employers, Dr Sanjay Verma and Dr Sunita Verma. The couple is expected back on Saturday.
In her statement to the SDM, the girl said: “There was food in the kitchen, but while leaving for Bangkok they said the ration had been marked and there was a camera installed in the house to keep a watch. They threatened to beat me if anything fell short.”
The girl also claimed she went hungry during their absence, surviving only on water. A resident of Hahnemann Enclave, from where the case was reported, told TOI on condition of anonymity that the doctor couple was not very sociable. “They hardly spoke to anyone. I saw the girl only a few times when she was cleaning the house.” This resident also said the couple changed domestic helps every few months. “They bring them on contract. The last one had run away.” *The victim’s name has been changed .A neighbour said the doctor couple was not sociable and changed domestic helps every few months
The allegations against the couple are shocking. If true, their behaviour would be considered inhuman even by medieval standards. They are accused of employing child labour, illegally confining the minor girl, practically starving her and torturing her physically and mentally. The police needs to quickly determine the veracity of the allegations. If proved correct, there must be no leniency. The most serious charge against them is slavery (Section 370 of IPC) which attracts a maximum punishment of seven years’ jail. Only the harshest punishment can act as a deterrent for others with similar mindsets.