New Delhi: Allegedly bound with ropes, hair chopped off, left without food for several days, made to sleep on the floor, and hours of beatings — a year ago, the story told by a 23-year-old domestic worker who was employed at a senior police officer’s house in Haryana made national headlines and sparked outrage.
Today, the 23-year-old tribal woman from Assam’s Mangaldoi has “moved on”, her family members told ThePrint. They claim she accepted a settlement of Rs 2.5 lakh to withdraw the case and is married and settled with her husband in Delhi. However, headaches and nightmares still haunt her, said her mother.
In February 2022, the woman was found on the streets after her employers allegedly threw her out of the house without winter clothing or shoes. At the time, she had been working at the house of IPS officer Rajesh Kalia and his wife Manisha in Panchkula.
Subsequently, the police booked Manisha under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including for wrongful confinement and voluntarily causing hurt.
Rajesh Kalia was reportedly the superintendent of police of emergency response support system and held the additional charge of telecom at the time of the incident. He was not booked.
Speaking to ThePrint then, the woman, who’d worked at the couple’s home from March 2021 to February 2022, had described the ways in which she was allegedly “tortured” for not meeting the family’s expectations.
But according to the woman’s family members, who spoke to ThePrint on condition of anonymity, dropping the case eventually seemed like the best course of action.
The woman’s father claimed that her former employers offered them not just a monetary settlement, but also a mobile phone, the return of documents they still held, and another Rs 20,000 for food expenses.
“One of the SP’s friends contacted us and informed us that they want to apologise and finish the matter,” the woman’s mother claimed.
“Some of our acquaintances also made us understand that they are big and powerful people and we can never compete, that cases stay stuck in courts for years, and she will have to keep running to Panchkula for hearings,” she added.
ThePrint reached Rajesh Kalia for comment through calls and text messages but didn’t receive a response. The report will be updated if a response is received.
A senior police officer privy to the case didn’t confirm that a settlement had been reached, but said the woman had indeed withdrawn her case and that the police had filed a closure report.
“She has stopped responding to our calls. For the closure report to be accepted by the court, she has to record her statement before the magistrate,” the police officer told ThePrint.
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‘It was time to move on’
The woman’s members said their daughter took up domestic work to help them get out of financial straits. As reported earlier by ThePrint, she initially told her parents that her employers treated her well, but later claimed she was deprived of her wages and forced to stop responding to her family’s calls.
Although the family initially accused both the IPS officer and his wife of having ill-treated the woman, they subsequently claimed that the latter had been primarily responsible.
In her complaint, the woman, a Class 10 dropout who was hired through an unlicensed agency that works through references, alleged that her employers had tied her up, forcibly chopped off her hair, refused her meals for days, and made her sleep on the cold floor in winter.
On 4 February last year, she was thrown out of the house, she claimed. Shortly thereafter, a police constable found her in a state of disarray on the streets, took her to a temple nearby, and helped her contact her family.
On basis of her complaint, a Zero FIR was filed at Delhi’s Fatehpur Beri Police Station on 8 February under several sections of the IPC, including unlawful compulsory labour, theft, wrongful confinement, and causing hurt. The case was eventually transferred to the Panchkula Police.
Her parents, who live in Delhi’s Fatehpur Beri, told ThePrint that the woman got married in December 2022 and is currently not employed.
Her mother said that the woman was trying to put the past behind her, but it wasn’t always easy.
“It was time for her to move on,” her mother told ThePrint. “She still has headaches and nightmares but we are trying our best to make her come out of it.”
Her wounds may have healed, but they have left a lasting impact. Her legs hurt when she does too many household chores, her mother added. The woman prefers not to talk about the matter anymore.
The woman’s parents told ThePrint that the “settlement” was arrived at mere weeks after the woman lodged her complaint with the police.
They claimed that on 22 February last year, a car was sent to take the woman and her brother to Panchkula, where they were also purportedly provided accommodation for the night.
“They apologised for how they treated our daughter and for all the humiliation she suffered,” the woman’s mother claimed. “For a while, I wondered why they didn’t reach out to us if our daughter wasn’t working properly. Why would they subject her to torture?”
However, she added that there was “no point making her or any one of us keep running to the courts”.
“We have to survive here,” she said.
Her daughter was asked to come to court again, she told ThePrint. But they haven’t gone yet. “We’re done with this,” she said with finality.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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