Charges slapped on doctor couple,placement agency shut shop: Police

Doctors Sanjay and Sumita Verma,arrested for employing a 13-year-old girl as a domestic help and allegedly locking her up in their Dwarka apartment while they holidayed in Bangkok,face charges ranging from cruelty to a juvenile to unlawful compulsory labour to wrongful confinement.

Written by Shalini Narayan | New Delhi | Published: April 6, 2012 2:34:49 am

Doctors Sanjay and Sumita Verma,arrested for employing a 13-year-old girl as a domestic help and allegedly locking her up in their Dwarka apartment while they holidayed in Bangkok,face charges ranging from cruelty to a juvenile to unlawful compulsory labour to wrongful confinement.

Police said that the Vermas have been charged under sections of the Juvenile Justice Act and Indian Penal Code. These charges could invite punishment for cruelty to a juvenile,exploitation of juvenile,enforcement of bonded labour,voluntarily causing hurt,wrongful confinement,buying or disposing of any person as slave,unlawful compulsory labour.

But police said that the girl’s mother,who came to Delhi from Gumla in Jharkhand on Wednesday night,claimed that her daughter was 18 years old,that she never sold her to anyone. A police team has been sent to Gumla to obtain a copy of her school certificate as proof of age.

Police said they raided the office of the placement agency — it brought the girl to the Vermas — in Punjabi Bagh but found it locked. The owner had shut shop about a month ago,police were told by area residents.

Police have searched the couple’s Dwarka Sector 6 apartment — B2/6 Hahnemann Apartments — and taken some 40 photographs as part of evidence gathering.

A police officer said that there appeared to be inconsistencies in the girl’s statements to police and counsellors after she was rescued from the apartment on March 29.

She had claimed that the Vermas had installed CCTV cameras to monitor her activities but these were not found when police searched the apartment.

“The girl told us that there were jars containing food items which had markings on them,that she had been told that the level of food in the jars must not fall and if it did,she would be punished,” the officer said. But no such jars were found in the apartment.

The girl claimed that she had been locked in the apartment for days but police found a set of keys in the couple’s car parked at the complex. “The car keys were with the girl,she had access to the set of house keys,” the officer said.

While the girl claimed that she hadn’t eaten anything except rotis and salt while her employers were away,the officer said they had found empty packets of Maggi noodle,biscuits and eggs in the apartment.

Police said the Vermas returned from Bangkok on the afternoon of March 30 — the girl was rescued a day earlier — and went to the house of Sanjay’s parents in Rohini. “They were told that the father had a heart attack and was at Saroj Hospital in Rohini,“ the officer said.

While at the hospital,they watched TV reports about their apartment and the girl’s rescue. The couple decided to spend the night in the hospital car park. They later moved from the house of one relative to another till they were arrested on Wednesday.

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