After a domestic help was allegedly beaten by her employers in a Noida housing society, hundreds of local villagers gathered outside their housing society, alleging that the young woman was held captive overnight and assaulted on mere suspicion of theft.
When Zohra, 26, did not return home on Tuesday, her husband filed a complaint with the Noida Police. However, after waiting for an entire day, the family of the young woman consulted locals and arrived at the housing society Mahagun Moderne in Noida Sector 78.
The Indian Express had accessed video footage which shows clashes between the security guards of the society and Zohra’s neighbors. The locals were seen carrying sticks in their hands, and had reportedly gathered around the society at 7 am.
Nilanajana Bhowmick, a Delhi-based freelance journalist, who spoke to Zohra says the domestic help told her she had been locked up in a room over allegations of theft.
This happened in Noida sector 78. This is so fuckin bloody scary. Is this the first time Bangladeshis have attacked? They either carry fake Indian ID proof or no proof at all, living here amongst…
Ms Bhowmick’s post indicated that Zohra went missing following a tiff with her employer. It was accompanied by pictures of an unconscious woman (Zohra). The post also highlights the fact that her family – all daily wage labourers – started protesting, demanding her whereabouts since morning.
In a video, Ms Bhowmick was seen speaking to AK Singh, SP, Noida, who promised to take action, but said there is not enough evidence at that point.
Video courtesy: Nilanajana Bhowmick
“When I reached the spot I found police in riot gear, firing. It’s incomprehensible. The situation is ludicrous,” Ms Bhowmick mentions in her FB post.
Residents of Mahagun Moderne, in fact, tried to justify the incident and trolled the journalist on social media alleging that the maid was a Bangladeshi immigrant.
“After I reached the venue the protesters were like an angry sea. I mediated between the police and the protesters at grave personal risk. I shouldn’t have had to do that if just one of the residents had come out and spoken to the protesters, assuaged their fears, the situation would not have gotten so much out of hand,” Bhowmick told Times Now.
Ms Bhowmick was called out of her residence at around 7 am by a few of the labourers, as she had assisted them on a similar issue in the past.
“I found them outside my door at around 7 am. They were asking for my help to intervene with the police saying a maid had gone missing and was found later in a car boot in very bad condition and when they protested the police started firing,” she told TIMES NOW.
“There were conflicting versions floating around. Some said she was found in a dustbin, some said she was found in a car boot. However, when I finally spoke to her, Zohra confirmed she had been locked up in a room,” Bhowmick added.
While the family in question said that Zohra had stolen money and ran away, Zohra contradicts their statement, alleging that she was locked up in a room the whole day and was barred from leaving on theft charges.
Noida apartment blocks also have strict security protocols and maids have to sign-in and sign-out and provide a handwritten slip for anything extra they might be carrying out with them that were not in their bags in the morning. Security guards search the bags of maids thoroughly every morning when they get into work.
In light of such security measures, a theft seems unlikely and even if there was any fault on Zohra’s part, physically assaulting her cannot be justified.