On Monday night, Rakesh Sinha and his family were not expecting any guests. That’s why they were startled when there was a knock on their door.
They were even more surprised when they realised that the person who had come knocking was not waiting outside the main door of Sinha’s apartment. Instead, the girl, in her early teens, was standing in the balcony adjacent to the kitchen of Sinha’s 12th floor apartment. She told them that she had escaped from an apartment on the 13th floor, by climbing down a sari that she had tied to the balcony above.
The girl told Sinha’s wife and ten-year-old son that she worked for the family living in the apartment above the Sinhas. Her employers assaulted her and made her work at all hours of the day, she said.
Sinha, who works at BBC News, moved into Noida’s Exotica Frescoe apartments just over a month ago. “My wife and son were at home at about 9.30 pm when they heard a knock from outside the kitchen balcony. They found a young girl who worked as the domestic help on the floor above. She was begging to be let in, because she wanted to escape from her employers. She was so desperate that she had climbed down from the 13th floor balcony, using a sari. She threatened to jump off the balcony if they didn’t let her escape. She said all she wanted to do was run away.”
According to residents of the apartment complex, when her employers realised that the girl had escaped, they tried to take her back. But after hearing the girl narrate her ordeal, residents called the police instead.
“The girl spent the night with another family in the apartment complex. The next morning, a woman constable arrived and took her, after which she was handed over to the Bachpan Bachao Andolan,” said Sinha.
On Tuesday morning, the NGO took custody of the victim, while a complaint under sections related to juvenile justice, trafficking and other associated sections was registered at the Surajpur police station.
Arshad, a member of Bachpan Bachao Andolan who took custody of the girl, admitted that he was shocked at the desperate lengths the girl went to, to escape her employers.
“She hung down a piece of cloth and climbed down with its help. Had she slipped, this would have been another story. She has told us that both her family and her employers are from Lakhimpur Kheri. Her father works at a juice cart, and she has seven siblings. They had sent her with this family, thinking she will be able to study here. She has said that she was often assaulted, and made to work from 5 am to 10 pm”.
“We have forwarded the recommendation to file a case to the district police,” he said. The girl has told them that her family was given Rs 3,000 before she was sent to work, said Arshad.
An FIR has already been registered, said Preetinder Singh, senior superintendent of police.
“A medical examination will be conducted and her statement will be recorded. Her parents have also been contacted. They were initially reluctant about an NGO being involved in the issue, but are now on their way. Investigations are also going on,” he said.
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