'Sangeeta Richard was happy with her job'
Sangeeta Richard, the housekeeper and nanny of India's deputy consul general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, had told her only daughter that she was very happy with her job and was being paid well.
Jennifer, the 20-year-old daughter of Sangeeta, 42, had shared the information a few months ago with one of her college mates living near her house in Sultanpur Colony in South Delhi.
"Jennifer had informed me that her mother was being paid a good salary and was very happy with the family she was working with. She was not treated like a domestic maid," Shalini, the college friend of Jennifer, told IANS.
Jennifer's statement is contrary to what her mother had said in her complaint to US authorities after she went absconding in June. She had said that she was underpaid and overworked.
Khobragade was charged with visa fraud and underpaying her nanny. She was arrested, handcuffed and made to go through strip and cavity search. India has voiced outrage over her humiliation and demanded an apology and that the case be taken back.
Shalini said that Jennifer and her brother Jatin Richard, 18, would talk to their mother on weekends.
"I and Jennifer had cast our votes in the Delhi elections on Dec 4, but she did not inform me that she was leaving Delhi. Jennifer along with her brother and father Philip Richard left their house suddenly. I don't know where they are now," Shalini told IANS.
Shalini's statement shows the suddenness with which the Richard family left for the US inspite of an FIR against them in Delhi. The family is now in New York.
The third floor two bedroom apartment in Sultanpur Colony, where Richard and her family were residing for the last few years, is now locked.
The address 45/S-1 is in a congested, working class neighbourhood, largely populated by low income families.
Sangeeta's neighbour, Dheeraj Bhardwaj, who resides on the fourth and topmost floor of 45/S-1, told IANS: "Sangeeta had left for US one year ago. Her husband was residing here with her two children."
"We are not very close to Sangeeta's family, but I know that she was working as a domestic help in some embassy here and her husband worked as driver in the Mozambique embassy. But, a year ago Sangeeta's husband was sacked from his job. In the meantime she got a job in the US and went there," Bhardwaj said.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 21-12-2013)