The Inside Story

Indian MP Dhananjay Singh held over maid's torture death

In this October 1 photo, Indian pedestrians walk past a policeman watching a flat in an apartment block were a domestic servant was allegedly tortured at Vasant Kunj in New Delhi. Source: AFP

A NEW Delhi court has ordered an Indian lawmaker and his wife to be held in police custody over the alleged torture death of a maid at their home.

Dhananjay Singh, a lawmaker from the regional Bahujan Samaj Party, and his dentist wife were arrested late Tuesday over the death of their 35-year-old maid, Rakhi Bhadra, who had allegedly been brutally assaulted.

The case was the latest in a string of reports of impoverished domestic servants being abused by wealthy employers.

"The offences are serious in nature," Judge Dheeraj Mittal said as he ordered the couple to be held in police custody for five days.

The maid was alleged to have suffered massive injuries to her head, stomach, arms and chest while working at the couple's house.

The lawmaker's wife Jagriti Singh was being held on suspicion of murder and wrongful confinement after the maid's death.

Her husband faces two other murder charges in unrelated cases. He was being held for allegedly destroying evidence by removing surveillance footage from 20 cameras installed in the couple's house, senior Delhi police official Mukesh Kumar Meena told reporters.

The lawmaker had earlier denied any wrongdoing over the maid's death, saying he was away at his Uttar Pradesh state constituency at the time of the death. On reaching Delhi, he immediately informed police.

Another servant, a juvenile, "told us that Jagriti had (allegedly) been regularly beating the three domestic helps including Rakhi over petty issues", police officer Meena said.

According to the servant, the maid was beaten with sticks and antlers for several months and died after being burnt with hot iron rods and kicked repeatedly by the dentist, police said.

Jagriti Singh is the lawmaker's second wife. Police said the couple are in the process of divorcing.

The case comes just months after a teenage Indian maid was rescued from an upscale Delhi home by police and social rights campaigners, who said she had been slashed with knives and mauled by dogs.

Her employer, a senior executive for a major multinational company, is on trial on charges of assault and illegal confinement.

In April last year police arrested a wealthy couple, both doctors, who locked up their 13-year-old helper while they went away on holiday.

She was rescued by firefighters when neighbours spotted her crying on an outside balcony.

India passed legislation in 2006 banning the employment of children under 14 in households, roadside eateries and hotels, but the law is widely flouted.

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Maid murder case: She danced while beating us, made us drink urine, help tells magistrate

Meena Sardar (35), a help at BSP MP Dhananjay Singh’s house, revealed disturbing details about how the MP’s wife Jagriti Singh used to assault her.

The couple was arrested and remanded in police custody in connection with the death of their help Rakhi.

Meena, in her statement before the magistrate on Wednesday, gave a detailed account of the traumatic year she spent in house no.175, South Avenue.

“Woh humein marte hue khushi se nachti thi (She used to dance with joy while beating us up),” Meena said in her statement.

Meena, who sustained severe burn injuries on her buttocks, hands, legs and feet, is currently undergoing treatment at RML hospital.

She reportedly told the magistrate that she was treated worse than an animal for the year that she was confined in the house, under the watch of 20 CCTV cameras.

Meena also said her hair was chopped off with a blade, injuries inflicted on her private parts and her feet, a police officer said.

“Meena in her statement said Jagriti used to dance around the house while beating them up with hot iron rods. When the servants begged for forgiveness, she ignored them,” the officer said.

“According to Meena’s statement, the helps used to take care of Jagriti’s four-year-old son. If ever she found her son crying while Meena was giving him a bath, she used to ask her son to urinate and then force Meena to drink it,” the officer said.

Meena, who hails from 24 Parganas District, Kolkata, told the magistrate that she was not given food or water if she committed the slightest of error and most helps were not paid their salaries.

According to police, Meena also told the magistrate that Jagriti made her lick food from a plate. Jagriti reportedly spat in her meals, she is learnt to have stated.

During questioning, police said Jagriti admitted to having ill-treated her helps. Police said the reason for her cruel behaviour was that she felt slighted.

“She felt that the servants were teasing her by not obeying her and by not abiding by the time table that she had set for them. This used to enrage her and she used to beat them up,” the officer said.

According to Meena’s statement, Jagriti had a time table for helps.

“She used to wake us up at 3.50 am. At 4 am, she would delegate work to us and go back to sleep. Then, she would wake up at 8 am to see if the work has been done. A slight error would mean no food throughout the day... She used to beat us up using antelope horns,” Meena is learnt to have said.

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Maid murder case: Rape case lodged against BSP MP Dhananjay Singh

An FIR of rape and criminal intimidation was lodged against BSP MP Dhananjay Singh at Pandav Nagar police station in East Delhi on Wednesday night.
The MP and his wife Jagriti Singh are currently in judicial custody after being arrested last week in connection with the death of their domestic help Rakhi.

According to police, a 42-year-old government employee has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Dhananjay between 2005 and 2009. She told police that she didn't come forward earlier as Dhananjay had threatened her with dire consequences if she reported the matter to anyone.

Police said Dhananjay has now been booked under Sections 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

Dhananjay, the BSP MP from Jaunpur constituency in Uttar Pradesh, and his wife, who is a dental surgeon at RML Hospital in Delhi, were remanded in judicial custody on Monday after their five-day police custody ended. The two were arrested in connection with the alleged torture of their help leading to her death. Singh faces charges of destruction of evidence.

Dhananjay's counsel had told the court that the MP's "only crime" was in being married to co-accused Jagriti. In his bail plea, he said had been "framed". He claimed that he had separated from his wife due to her "unpredictable and violent behaviour".

The MP has numerous cases against him in Lucknow and Jaunpur, including those of murder.

At Sikrara police station alone, history sheet number 12 A lists 11 cases against him in 1998.

When UP director general (health) Dr Bachchi Lal was shot dead in 2001, Dhananjay was arrested after the alleged contract killer identified him as the conspirator, but was later acquitted. In 2011, he was arrested over the murders of a contractor and a tea stall owner, and later got bail.

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