The closure report filed by police in the FIR lodged by Zohra Bibi, the domestic help at Noida’s Mahagun Moderne society who alleged illegal confinement and assault by her employers, was filed on July 22 — 10 days after the incident — police have said. While police cited “lack of evidence” to back the 26-year-old’s allegations as reason for closing the case, officers admitted that the report was filed “without taking her statement” before a magistrate.
Zohra, supported by a labour union, plans to approach the Allahabad High Court in the coming week, it is learnt. Investigation, however, is continuing in three separate FIRs filed by Zohra’s employers and residents of Mahagun Moderne society on charges of “rioting”, “damaging property” and “attempt to murder”. Thirteen people, who were allegedly part of the mob that had gathered outside the society after Zohra’s ‘disappearance’, have been arrested. Charged under non-bailable sections of attempt to murder, they are yet to get bail. Police sources, meanwhile, admitted that no one was injured in the violence.
Zohra and her husband, who are named in the FIR filed by her employers, have gone “incommunicado”, police said.
A family member of one of the 13 arrested accused told The Indian Express, “They never bothered to record Zohra’s statement and closed the case. And why are there three FIRs against the accused? This means each of them needs to take bail thrice. We can’t afford that, especially in the attempt to murder case where the bail is costlier.” Police officers did not explain why the attempt to murder charges were slapped.
On why three FIRs had been filed, SSP Love Kumar said, “There is a sequence of events. The first FIR filed by the Sethis (Zohra’s employers) has to do with what happened in the house. The other two are to do with the violence on two occasions. We are probing the matter.” After the incident, Mahagun Moderne and other societies in Sector 78 had “banned” Bengali domestic helps. Union Culture Minister and MP from Gautam Buddh Nagar, Mahesh Sharma, had also promised the residents that the accused “would not get bail for years to come”. Police denied any political pressure. SP (City) Arun Kumar Singh said, “We examined the evidence and it did not give any credence to her (Zohra’s) claims. Hence we filed a closure report.”
On why her statement had not been recorded before a magistrate, under CrPC Section 164, SSP Kumar said, “We usually record statements in sexual assault cases. This is not the case. The statement can be recorded before a magistrate in other cases too, but due to lack of evidence, it was decided otherwise.”
Zohra had alleged that her employers had accused her of stealing, beat her up and confined her, but she managed to escape and hide in the building. Her employers denied the allegations.