Indian diplomat in US accused of harassing maid

Indian diplomat in US accused of harassing maid

Indian diplomat in US accused of harassing maid

 Indian Consul General in New York Prabhu Dayal has been accused of treating a former domestic help as a slave and making sexual advances, charges rejected by him as “mischievous” and “complete nonsense”.

Santosh Bhardwaj, Dayal’s former maid, has filed a forced-labour suit against him for making her work for long hours everyday at $300 a month, confiscating her passport and letting her sleep in a storage closet. She has also alleged him of making sexual advances.

“I filed the complaint because I want to be paid for all the labour I provided and for all the injustice I suffered - and I want my passport returned,” Bhardwaj (45), the mother of four, said.

Meanwhile, External Ministry sources said India was trying to ascertain details of the case. “We are trying to ascertain the details,” sources accompanying External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on his Myanmar visit said.

Dayal’s lawyer Ravi Batra described the charges as a “fantasy” and said: “This fraudster of a woman, seeing dollar signs, has hit on a ‘Get rich quick’ scheme after a year and a half of illegally staying and working in New York: fraudulent defamation of a highly respected and honoured member of the diplomatic corps in New York.”

Bhardwaj said she was lured to the US with a promise of an hourly pay of $10 and overtime pay. Instead, she said her payment was less than $ 1 an hour, and her passport was confiscated.

“The Dayals did not treat me fairly,” she said in a statement issued by the Legal Aid Society, which is representing her. She also alleged that on one occasion Dayal told her she could only have the additional money if she gave him a “massage.”

“Bhardwaj interpreted this as a sexual advance and was deeply offended. After that incident, Bhardwaj left the Dayals home and did not return,” said the statement. Dayal rejected the accusation, saying, “No question. I never asked for a massage... I deny it outright...I don’t need a massage... I’m fit.”

According to Dayal, Bhardwaj had absconded in January 2010 after he did not allow her to work outside the Consulate since it was not permitted under the terms of her visa.

“She wanted to moonlight (earn more money). But it was against the rules so I did not permit it,” he said.

Dayal said Bhardwaj did not sleep in a storeroom but had her own room on the fifth floor of the Consulate building in Manhattan, which was equipped with a television and phone.

“She lived in the lap of luxury. We paid her line with regulation.”

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