Indian MP arrested over death of maid
Dhananjay Singh and his wife under investigation for allegedly beating servant to death over her dusting
Pedestrians walk past a policeman watching a flat where a servant was allegedly tortured at Vasant Kunj in New Delhi last month. Photograph: Sajjad Hussain/AFP
An Indian MP and his wife, under investigation for allegedly beating one of their female servants to death, have been accused of torturing and assaulting a second maid.
Dhananjay Singh, an MP from the regional Bahujan Samaj or All People’s Party, and his dentist wife, Jagriti Singh (29), were arrested in New Delhi last week in connection with the death of their 35-year-old maid, who had been brutally assaulted.
She was reportedly beaten to death with an iron rod, a stick and the horn of a hunting trophy over the standard of her dusting, police said.
Investigators claimed the victim had multiple injuries including burn marks on her body.
The case involving the MP – already under investigation for other murders including the death of a rival politician – is the latest in a string of such incidents in Delhi involving the abuse of domestic servants by their employers.
Other maid hospitalised
The other maid, Meena Sardar (35), who is undergoing treatment in a Delhi hospital for multiple injuries sustained in the MP’s house, told Delhi police last Thursday that she was treated worse than an animal for the year she worked for the politician and his wife.
She said not only did Ms Singh humiliate her but she also beat her frequently for no reason and burnt her with an iron on several occasions.
Ms Sardar said she was often forced by her employer to eat like a dog, licking the food from her plate without using her hands. Ms Singh even spat on her food, she told police.
Ms Sardar was one of three servants, including a young boy, employed by the Singhs. She said they were imprisoned in the house and monitored by about 20 CCTVs, including one in their bathroom.
The case, which has generated widespread indignation, is just one of several to be reported.
Last month a senior female executive working with a multinational company was arrested for repeatedly beating her maid with a broom, attacking her with knives, starving her and withholding her salary.
In April 2012 a doctor couple were arrested for locking up their 13-year-old maid without food in their home in an upmarket Delhi neighbourhood while +they went on holiday to Thailand for a week.
There is no official estimate of the number of household workers in India, but rough estimates put it at about 50 million, many of whom are minors.
A large number of these workers come from poor rural areas and are exploited by employment agencies, which place them in households in return for handsome commissions. They are not covered by any protective legislation such as the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, or the Workmen’s Compensation Act, 1926.
The Domestic Workers Act, 2008, which in principle offers domestic workers some protection, remains in the pipeline.