SIKKIM NEWS: Parents allege murder – Domestic help from Sikkim dead in Singapore – foreign employment also under scanner, need for more vigilance ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, June 24: A 32-year-old woman from Sikkim was found dead in the basement of a building in Singapore where she had been working as a domestic help.
Hemlata Chettri’s parents alleged that she had been murdered by her employers who used to torture her.
The body was found on the morning of June 22 at 22 Melville Park, Simei Street, according to a document from the High Commission of India, Singapore.
Hemlata was a resident of Munong busty at Sombaria, West Sikkim, and she had left for Singapore with a friend from the same place in November. “My daughter was murdered. I want justice,” said 62-year-old Padam Bahadur Chettri.
“Hemlata had been placed by a Singapore-based employment company, Charisa agency. She was initially working in the house of one Arrya Vissal. My daughter used to call us and talk about physical torture by the employers,” said Chettri, a farmer.
Later Hemlata was placed in another house owned by Smitha Nityananda at Simei Street. “There also, my daughter was tortured physically and she was not paid wages for five months. She could not come back because she did not have money,” said Chettri, who had borrowed Rs 17,000 from relatives to send his daughter to Singapore.
Hemlata was paid a salary of Rs 10,000 a month and had sent home Rs 17,400 after working for the first two months.
Hearing his daughter’s plight last week, Chettri sought help from senior police officers in Sikkim. “I met the superintendent of police (West), inspector-general (law and order) and even the director general of police. They had assured me of all possible help,” he said. “The West police chief also spoke to Hemlata on the phone and he was told that she did not want to work in Singapore anymore.”
The police chief of West district, Rajiv Ranjan, said he had spoken to Hemlata, but she had not said anything about the torture.
The father had raised money to bring Hemlata back to Sikkim and had also written to the Indian high commission in Singapore about her plight. “I was getting ready to book tickets for my daughter when I received a call from her on June 21. She said there was no need to send the tickets as her employers had started treating her properly,” said Chettri.
The next morning, an anonymous woman called up the Chettri family to tell them that Hemlata had committed suicide by jumping from her employer’s building. “The caller refused to identify herself and now her mobile phone is switched off,” said Iman Singh Limboo, a friend of Chettri.
Rejecting the suicide claim, the family has demanded an investigation and action against the persons involved in the death. A letter has been faxed to the high commission in Singapore, the National Human Rights Commission and the Singapore consulate in Calcutta.
Sikkim chief secretary T.T. Dorji said: “The state government will pursue the matter with the ministry of external affairs if the parents of the victim make a formal complaint.”
The Indian high commission in Singapore had faxed Hemlata’ s death certificate to the family members here. The cause of death had been listed as “craniocerebral injuries” and the name of the person who had reported her death was given as Smitha Nityananda.
The document dated June 24 was attested by Anil Kumar, assistant consular officer at the high commission.
The family members said they were trying to bring the body to Sikkim.
MEANWHILE FROM THE TELEGRAPH BRIEFS
Worker held for rape – of a 6 year old, how depraved ?!!
Gangtok, June 24: A 38-year-old construction worker from Jalpaiguri was arrested yesterday for allegedly raping a six-year-old girl at Central Pandam in East Sikkim.
The accused, Sudhir Roy, who was working in a construction company, had been picked up after the girl’s father lodged a complaint with Rangpo police. A case has been registered.