The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Employer held in teen suicide
- Day of distress for domestic help

She had come from Egra, in East Midnapore, to Bhowanipore, in south Calcutta, to eke out a living. On Sunday morning, 17-year-old Seuli Jena was found hanging from the ceiling of the apartment in which she had been engaged as a maid from last April.

Soon after the mysterious death of the teenaged maid on Indra Roy Road, police arrested Krishna Bhattacharjee, wife of retired army captain Bhaskar Bhattacharjee. She was picked up on the basis of a complaint of torture lodged with Bhowanipore police station by Seuli’s aunt, Saraswati Giri.

As news of Seuli’s death spread, a mob of around 500 residents of the area vandalised the apartment. Bhaskar Bhattacharjee, police said, has been out of town for the past two days.

“We have arrested Seuli’s employer on charges of torturing her and driving her to death. We cannot say yet whether this was a case of suicide,” said Shakti Pada Chatterjee, officer-in-charge (OC) of Bhowanipore police station.

Saraswati said in her complaint that from the day Seuli started working for her, Krishna had been torturing her mentally.

“Whenever I tried to meet Seuli, she (Krishna) denied me permission. So I started meeting her secretly,” she said in her complaint.

A few days ago, Saraswati asked Krishna to let the girl go, to which the family agreed. Saraswati, apparently, told Krishna she would be back on Sunday morning to take Seuli away.

“I reached the house around 5 am to take her back to Egra. When I knocked on the door, she (Krishna) spoke to me through an open window and said that Seuli, tired of waiting, had left on her own a few minutes ago,” Saraswati told police.

Seuli’s aunt then rushed down the road to see whether she could spot the girl. “When I could not find her, I returned and knocked on the door again. This time, she (Krishna) held the door ajar, and I saw Seuli hanging from the ceiling,” the complaint added.

At this point, Krishna allegedly pushed Saraswati away and slammed door. Seuli’s aunt then raised an alarm, shouting, “Aamar meyetake khoon kore phelechhe (They have killed my girl)”.

According to OC Chatterjee, police were alerted around 8 am. “We went and found the girl hanging in the drawing room,” he added.

Police, initially, detained Krishna for interrogation. But later, they charged her with abetting suicide and arrested her following Saraswati’s complaint, in which she held both husband and wife responsible.

A number of unanswered questions remain in what is being termed as suicide:

• If Seuli was, indeed, being allowed to leave the Bhattacharjee household and head back home, what led her to commit suicide'

• Why did Krishna tell Saraswati that Seuli had left'

• When Saraswati returned, why was she not allowed in'

• Chiraranjan Saha, a grocer opposite the Bhattacharjee apartment, said he had seen the girl “hanging from the ceiling with no chair or stool under her feet”. So how did police find a chair she had allegedly used to commit suicide'

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