AMBIKA PANDIT IN THE TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI: A tribal girl from West Bengal was found hanging from a grill in the courtyard of her employer’s house in Faridabad on April 14. She had a dog’s leash around her neck.
Till date, no FIR has been lodged in the case. While the police blame their helpless on the absence of a report, the girl’s body lies in a mortuary unclaimed. Attempts are on to track her family in Uttar Dinajpur and bring them to identify her.
The case, yet again, brings to the fore the rising cases of exploitation of domestic workers from tribal belts. In the absence of laws to regulate domestic work and placement agencies, these girls live and die without any identity or rights.
Police officials from Dabua Police Chowki of Saran police station had found the girl’s body in Sector 49 of Dabua Colony after her employers informed them. The employers told the police that the girl was hired on March 24 from Laxmi Placement Agency and she appeared to be depressed. But so far, no one has inquired into the alleged cause of depression or the girl’s employment history. The employers told police that it was a case of suicide. Police, however, has not initiated any inquiry to investigate the role of the employers in the case.
There is also no clarity on the girl’s age as she appears to be a minor. Preliminary inquiry shows that the girl was hired for a meager salary of Rs 3,500 to do the house work in a family of six members, police said, adding that the placement agency took around Rs 22,000 from the employers as commission.
Strangely, the placement agency owner has been tasked with the job of finding the girl’s family and bringing them to the police station. Meanwhile, the police officials say they are trying hard to keep the body from being eaten away by mice in the “dead house” where the freezer facility is not working properly and ice is being used to preserve the girl’s body.
While mystery shrouds the domestic worker’s death, NGO Shakti Vahini has written to the Faridabad police commissioner seeking an investigation into the matter from the point of view of inter-state human trafficking (West Bengal-Delhi-Haryana). “It is a matter of concern how the girl came in contact with the placement agency. What is the legal status of the agency? The girl’s age is also a matter of investigation,” the letter states.
Meanwhile, experts working on trafficking cases feel that much time has been wasted. Former member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Vinod Tikoo, cited Section 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to point out the role of police to enquire and report on suicide, and such matters.
As per the Code, a police officer has the power to inform an executive magistrate empowered to hold inquests. The police can also make a report on the basis of spot examination and preliminary investigation into cause of death to enable the district magistrate to act.