On 5th July 2013, a young thirteen-year-old minor girl hailing from Manipur committed suicide by hanging herself in a house at Krishnanagar (near Safdarjung Enclave) in New Delhi. She was brought from Manipur as a domestic servant by one Manipuri working in Parliament as Interpreter, Dacchabanta Samom, and his wife, Lilabati Samom. The girl was kept confined to his Krishnanagar house for more than a year. The entire case is hushed up with utmost secrecy with the body of the girl cremated at New Delhi without even taking it back to her relatives.
Such a serious case has been covered up as both the man and his wife are well connected in Manipur’s elite circle. The poor girl’s family has no space to raise their voice. This shows the clear class divide between the rich and influential circle on the one hand, and poor and voiceless on the other.
This unfortunate event happened at a time when there is so many hue and cries about trafficking of children and girls from Northeast (particularly from Manipur) to the country’s metros and made to work as domestic help, pushed into prostitution, and in most cases ill treated.
This particular case also highlights ill treatment of a poor child by her employer. In this case one is not even sure if the child was paid at all. Taking up of such an extreme step shows the level of cruelty the child must have been subjected to. As it is learnt, the child was hardly taken out of the house, nor allowed to go out. She was literally kept as bonded labourer with no one to speak to. The child was completely depressed, which led her to take such a step. This shows utter insensitivity on the part of the employer, particularly the woman of the house, to the need and concern of a child. There have also been earlier incidents/cases of ill treatment of other domestic helps by the same couple.
The myth so far has been that children from the Northeast are being abused in the city by non-North easterners. This case reveals that exploiter has no caste, creed or colour. They are among the multitude of middle class who want to lead a life of comfort at the cost of the poor and the vulnerable. They cannot afford to give the basis amenities to the domestic helps, but wants to extract maximum service from them. The increasing number of middle class population from the Northeast in big cities like Delhi is adding up a new dynamics. Instead of employing local domestic helps, they prefer to bring helpers from their native places, which are not only cheap, but also easy to handle. This new breed of middle class North easterners are slowly losing their traditional communitarian values, and adopting to exclusivist, selfish attitude to life. The present case is the result of such changing mind set.