Maid death case: Shocking details emerge on woman trafficker

By Naomi N Published on Jul 31, 2018 01:10 PM IST

Chennai: Human trafficking is no less than modern-day slavery. One such case is the recent horrifying 'murder' of 13-year-old domestic help Mahalakshmi, and news related to her death refuses to die down as more shocking facts keep cropping up.

A few weeks ago, Mahalakshmi was beaten and scalded with boiling water and eventually succumbed to her injuries.

This sadistic act was allegedly done by her employer Sushmitha Priya, wife of a businessman, and her niece Mitrachini, both residents of Adyar. They were subsequently arrested and lodged at Puzhal prison.

News Today’ got hold of an inquiry report filed by the National Domestic Worker Association (NDWA), which revealed some shocking details about Gampala Sumitra, the woman who had earlier claimed to be Mahalakshmi's aunt.

But in actuality, she is said to be an agent and trafficker from Rangampeta in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh who, claiming the teenager was her younger sister's daughter, had handed over Mahalakshmi to the businessman's family.

The inquiry report divulged Sumitra had claimed that she was affected with HIV and efforts were being made to provide her with medical assistance in Chennai; this was later found to be an outright lie.

She was also receiving Rs 5,000 every month from the family which employed Mahalakshmi, and the money was deposited in an Andhra Bank branch.

“On 6 and 7 July, Sumitra was easily available over the phone; but once she realised that people from the NDWA were coming to meet her at Rangampet, she panicked and cut the phone connections,” said the report.

The report also revealed that Sumitra's late husband had worked in the film industry as a cameraman, and the woman used the influence of some people in the field to traffic minor girls to Chennai and Hyderabad.

State Co-ordinator NDWA Sr M J A Valarmathi said, “It is easy to lure girls on the pretext of getting them opportunity in movies, and Sumitra was one such person who was definitely misusing the girls.”

Some neighbours and local people in Rangampet reportedly remember the victim Mahalakshmi, about 10-year-old then, being brought there several times by a woman alleging to be her mother.

The labour department has said that it had no record of the employment of Mahalakshmi under inter-state migration. “Negligence also lies with the Adyar police who had been informed that Sumitra was not a relative ('peddamma') but a trafficker, but they did not heed to take down the complaint and instead released the teenager's body to Sumitra and her accomplices, who hastily cremated the body,” the report said.

Speaking to ‘News Today’, a senior police official from Adyar Zone said, “We cannot say anything as of now. We have been hearing different versions of this case, but we will, however, file a chargesheet and begin the trial in court.”