Sisters Durga and Raji, whose mother has been allegedly ‘framed’ and jailed in the Gulf, appeal to Chief Minister to use his good offices and ensure her return home

Ten year-old Raji and her 13-year-old sister Durga Bhavani go to a Government school in Cherukuwada, in Penugonda mandal of West Godavari. They live in nearby Chinnavaripalli and nurture a fervent desire to study well and come up in life.

But since they lost their father Dharma Rao in 2009, in an accident, their future appeared bleak. However, what made it worse was that their mother Lakshmi Palepu is in jail, sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly murdering the little daughter of her employer in Muscat, where she worked as domestic help.

On Tuesday evening, with help from the National Coordinator of the National Domestic Workers’ Movement (NDWM), Sister Lissy Joseph, they called on Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and made a fervent plea for help. When Mr. Reddy asked the little ones as to what they wanted, they said, “We want our mother back.”

Sadly, their mother left them for the Sultanate of Oman about a month after they lost their father. Ms. Lakshmi borrowed Rs. 50,000 from a money lender and paid the same to Ramakrishna, an unregistered overseas employment agent in Venkatapuram of the district. Her aged mother Sanyasamma has been struggling to pay the interest since 2009, with help from relatives who have reached a stage where they could not help anymore.

With help from some volunteers working on migrant labourers’ problems, Ms. Lakshmi was able to contact her mother and claimed that she was framed because she saw her landlady in an illicit relationship with another man and because she was a witness when the other man snuffed out the life of the toddler.

“Our only hope lies in the Indian Government taking it up at the diplomatic level with the Sultanate. We also urged Chief Minister Mr. Reddy to write to the Sultanate,” she said, with a faint ray of hope in her voice, adding that the NDWM would file a mercy petition to the Sultanate on behalf of the children.