A 16-year-old tribal girl working as a domestic help, and allegedly subjected to vicious physical assault and forced starvation, was rescued from her employers’ home in Kalyan Vihar on Friday afternoon. The girl, who had been working at the house for the past four months, told a Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) rescue team that she was burnt with a hot iron and boiling water, cut with scissors and even strangulated on several occasions.
Police have arrested the employer, Nidhi Chaudhary, a dentist. Police said she has been living at the second-floor Kalyan Vihar home with her husband and five-year-old daughter for the last eight years. Police are yet to get in touch with the girl’s family, who live in Jharkhand’s Chaibasa district.
“We have registered a case under IPC sections 323, 342, 370 and 374, sections 75 and 79 of the JJ Act, and Section 16 of the Bonded Labour Act against Chaudhary,” said DCP (northwest) Aslam Khan.
That the girl was under duress was noticed by neighbours when she was drying clothes in the balcony. “She was frail and could not stand properly. We asked her if she was fine, and she gestured that her employer had assaulted her,” claimed a neighbour, adding that the girl was never spotted outside. Once, residents noticed that she had a swollen eye and burn marks across her hand.
On Saturday, several domestic helps at the colony gathered outside Chaudhary’s house and managed to get the girl downstairs. The complainant in the case, Afghan national and Delhi University student Spouzhmai Akbarzai, contacted police and tried to talk to the girl.
“She was completely devastated. She tried to speak to us in sign language. She showed us the bruise marks all over her body. The woman (Chaudhary), meanwhile, came down and sat in her car. She threatened to run us over if we did not give way. We damaged the car’s headlights and surrounded her. She had to retreat to her house,” Akbarzai told The Sunday Express.
Police tried to take the girl away, but the women refused to let them leave with her. She was later rescued after some women constables reached the spot. DCW chief Swati Maliwal claimed the girl had told her team that a day before the rescue, Chaudhary sat on top of her and assaulted her with a weighing machine — an allegation corroborated by police. “She has made these claims in her statement. But she did not talk about being assaulted with a hot iron and water. But burn marks have been inflicted on her,” Khan said.
Police said they are questioning the accused and will also try to track the placement agency which referred the minor to work at the house.