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Harassing Domestic Workers, Slapping Security Guards: Delhi-NCR Has A History Of Abuse

Harassing Domestic Workers, Slapping Security Guards: Delhi-NCR Has A History Of Abuse

In the past few months, several incidents of violence being perpetrated toward residential staff in urban high-rise gated societies have gone viral. And yet, attacks on this particular class of workers has always been a common problem in the Delhi NCR region.

Rising attacks on securoty guards and employees of gates societies
Rising attacks on securoty guards and employees of gates societies PTI

The malaise of violence against workers employed in urban housing societies and other business establishments continues unabated in urban satellite cities like Noida, Gurugram, Delhi

In the past few months, several incidents of violence being perpetrated toward residential staff in urban high-rise gated societies have gone viral. And yet, attacks on this particular class of workers has always been a common problem in the Delhi NCR region.

In July 2017, a gated society named Mahagun Moderne Society in Greater Noida, was attacked by a mob of migrant workers and slum dwellers from nearby colonies. The mob consisted of domestic workers, their families and the blue-collar staff that served in the residents of the building. The purpose of the angry mob was to ransack the home of Anshu and Mithul Sethi to look for Zohra Bibi, a domestic worker employed at the home of the Sethis. 

Zohra, who lived in a nearby slum, was accused of theft and sacked from her job. However, the family did not report the incident to the police. Instead, they called her to their house the next day to collect her pending payment. According to reports, Bibi did not return home for over 24 hours and was only found later in the basement of one of the buildings in the complex. Apparently, she had taken shelter inside the basement after being assaulted by her former employers who had beaten and her and allegedly kept her locked inside her room. 

The incident caused a huge uproar. Many editorials and columns on the ugliness of the urban class divide in satellite cities like Noida and Gurugrm were published by Delhi-centric media houses. The problem of violence that domestic workers face in cities like Delhi is not unheard of. In 2015, two Nepalese employed as domestic workers for a Saudi diplomat were rescued from his Gurgaon flat. Investigations into the matter revealed that the two women had been repeatedly abused sexually by the diplomat and at least 20 others for months.

Nearly a decade since then, the malaise of violence against workers employed in urban housing societies and other business establishments continues unabated. Blue-collar workers, mostly migrants from smaller towns and villages across India, continue to face attacks from upper-class, upper-caste city dwellers with barely any legal recourse available to them.

This year itself has seen several such attacks on staff like security guards, domestic workers, lift operators, and even auto and taxi drivers. 

On August 29 this year, a security guard working at the Close North Apartment society in Gurugram filed an FIR after a resident of the complex violently attacked him for no reason. In viral videos of the incident, the resident, a businessman named Varun Nath, was seen violently slapping the guard, named Ashok Kumar, after getting stuck in the building’s elevator. In his fit of rage, Nath allegedly even threatened to kill the guard, who was on duty when the lift malfunctioned. Kumar claimed that Nath attacked him despite the former helping him out of the elevator.  Nath, who was arrested by Gurugram Police sections 323 (causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was later released on bail. Speaking to The Quint after the incident, the 48-year-old security guard had said, “Kyunki unke paas paisa hai, unko ghamand ho raha tha. Unnhone socha hoga, 'Yeh chhote log mera kya bigaad lenge?' (He has money and pride, and must have thought, 'What could these poor people do to me?’).

In the same month, a 28-year-old woman was arrested and her family was booked for allegedly stripping and assaulting their 43-year-old domestic worker whom they suspected of theft. Following the assault, the victim tried to die by suicide by consuming rat poison.

As per reports quoting the police investigating the case, the family had sought the services of a ‘tantrik baba’ (occultist) to find out who among their employees had allegedly committed theft in the house. The tantrik ruled that it was the victim who had committed the theft following which they beat her. In a similar incident in May, a 48-year-old domestic worker employed with a family in a Rajouri Garden gated society alleged abuse from her employer who repeatedly beat her and cut her hair as “punishment” for so-called bad behaviour. 

On 10th September, a woman in Noida was arrested for repeatedly slapping a security guard because he had delayed opening the gate. The incident occurred in the Cleo County residential complex in Noida Sector 21. In this case too, security footage capturing the violence went viral. The woman, who was arrested for alleged assault, was later released on bail. 

A few days ago, Bhavya Roy, an advocate in Delhi was also arrested after she was found misbehaving with security guards at Jaypee Wishtown society in Sector-128 in Noida. In videos, she could be seen manhandling the guards and pulling one by their collar and dragging them outside the gate while hurling abuses and derogatorily calling the guard “Bihari”.  Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal took cognisance of the incident and asked the Noida Police to take strict action against the woman.

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