The rot of immorality, venality and corruption in Indian politics might have a poster child in Dhananjay Singh, an MP who represents the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Dhananjay, 38, and his wife have been arrested in connection with torture and murder of their domestic servant – Rakhi Badra, 35, -- who was beaten and burned her to death. Not only that, but police allege that Dhananjay destroyed 20 CCTV cameras at his residence on South Avenue in New Delhi in an attempt to hide any evidence of the crimes. Dhananjay is an MP for Jaunpur in state of Uttar Pradesh, about 500 miles southeast of Delhi.
The Telegraph newspaper of Britain reported that Dhananjay told police that Bhadra died on Sunday after she slipped down the stairs of his home and that he was away at the time of the incident. However, detectives probing the incident discount that claim and allege that Dhananjay and his wife, 29-year-old Jagriti Singh, a dentist, regularly physically abused Bhadra as well as other domestic staff. Police believe that it was Jagriti who actually murdered the servant (with a hot iron rod, a stick and the antlers from a hunting trophy), while her husband subsequently helped to cover up the crime. "Jagriti Singh has been detained in connection with the case, but we are still questioning people involved and investigating the matter," a senior Delhi police official told Agence France Presse.
Reportedly, what sent Jagriti over the edge was the quality of Bhadra’s dusting capabilities. Bhadra’s body was marked with serious burns on the chest, stomach, arms and legs, and multiple injuries. Press Trust of India reported that Bhadra was a migrant from Bangladesh who had worked for the Singhs for about ten months.
Another domestic servant, a 17-year-old, told investigators that both Jagriti and Dhananjay frequently beat and abused their help, often over the most trivial matters. “Whenever the MP [Dhananjay] used to come home, we used to tell him about how his wife tortures us,” the minor said in a statement, according to Hindustan Times. “On our complaints, which we used to make to him in private, he used to say if we kept making mistakes, we would naturally get punished. He said many servants before us had worked in his house and had been subjected to assault when they made mistakes; we were [nothing] special.” But BBC reported that Dhananjay and his are estranged, with the MP seeking a divorce from his wife. He reportedly informed police he was not even living at the residence on South Avenue anymore.
Moreover, this latest serious brush with the law is nothing new for Dhananjay, who is already under investigation for his involvement in various other murders, including the killing of a political rival. All told, Dhananjay, who has served as an MP for four years, has been charged in 29 criminal cases, including three murders. Many of those charges were dropped after witnesses either refused to testify or recanted previous statements. India Today uncovered that another servant in the employ of Dhananjay died mysteriously in January 2009 at his residence in Balsafa village in Jaunpur.
Police officials told the Hindustan Times that Dhananjay behaved calmly during his arrest and interrogation and that the MP was “fine with being named in another case what with so many others he was being investigated for and the things that he had witnessed in his political career.”
Indian media often cover stories of wealthy couples abusing, even killing, their domestic servants, who overwhelmingly come from very poor backgrounds. In 2006, the government passed laws to prohibit the employment of children under the age of 14 in households and some other venues, but it is widely ignored.