Suicide case against 13-year-old girl, a domestic help

The Jammu and Kashmir Police have filed a matter of “attempt to [commit] suicide” against a 13-year-old Chennai girl even as her condition at a hospital was reportedly critical on Friday.

Informed sources revealed to The Hindu that the teenager was found, in a semi-conscious state, in the bathroom at the residence of a Jammu-based advocate and admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu. Even as Medical Superintendent Manoj Chalotra did not respond to phone calls and his deputy, Wasiq Rasool, claimed to have no knowledge about the girl’s treatment, sources insisted that the patient was in “extreme critical condition” at the medical Intensive Care Unit [ICU].

According to the sources, the teenager had been illegally provided to a Jammu-based family in Gol Gujral area and used as a domestic help in violation of the State’s child labour laws. On May 8, she was found hanging from a shower pipe in the house of the son of a leading criminal lawyer. The head of the family has served twice as President of the Bar Association in Jammu and a director with the Citizens’ Cooperative Bank and the J&K Cooperative Housing Corporation.

The sources said a team from the Jammu Deputy Labour Commissioner’s office had swung into action and was proceeding against the family for employing a child as domestic help in violation of law.

While nobody from the family was reachable for comment, a group of their supporters claimed that “rival political groups are trying to exploit the girl’s suicide attempt”. A child rights activist, nevertheless, alleged the matter was being “hushed up” and the media was being persuaded against highlighting the case. She alleged that the police were neither confirming nor denying the possibility of there having been a possible sexual assault on the girl.

A Chief Prosecuting Officer of J&K Police was seen camping outside the ICU and preventing media persons from reporting the young girl’s condition.

The Station House Officer of Domana Police Station, Inspector Arvind Samiyal, told The Hindu that case FIR No: 157, dated 08-05-2013, under Section 309 of the Ranbir Penal Code [attempt to suicide] had been filed against the teenager.

“One of the family members brought the girl to the hospital. The family reported that the girl had hanged herself against a shower in a bathroom after bolting the door from inside. According to them, she had been evacuated after breaking the door open. It must have taken five to seven minutes. She is now in a critical condition at the ICU but we have not been able to record her statement as she is not in a condition to speak,” Inspector Samiyal said.

The SHO said that the girl’s mother Neetali was a resident of Lakhnipuram, Chennai, who lived with her husband Saleem near the Civil Secretariat in Jammu. He said the investigation was in its initial stages and the medical examination report was still awaited. “As of now, nobody has complained [of] sexual assault or violence on the girl but we will proceed in those directions only after receiving the medical report,” he said. Inspector Samiyal, however, confirmed that the Department of Labour team was in touch with the two families, the police and the hospital staff.