A woman domestic help has levelled charges of molestation against the brother-in-law of the principal of the prestigious Queen Mary’s School at Delhi’s Tis Hazari. The domestic help, a temporary employee of the school, maintained that the school’s principal, Ritu P. Solomon, had assured her that she would be allowed to continue working in the school if she did not mention the “incident” to anyone. Solomon, has, however, rubbished all allegations against her brother-in-law, Vinod Thomas. The maid filed an FIR against Thomas on Thursday at the Sabzi Mandi police station. All charges have been denied by those named.
However, on Saturday, DCP North, Madhur Verma, confirmed that “the accused will be formally arrested tonight and interrogated.”
The alleged incident came to light when the maid apparently tried to “commit suicide” by consuming phenyl on 12 July in the school compound and was immediately rushed to the nearby St Stephens’ Hospital. Thomas had been allegedly trying to have his way with the maid, who had been working at Solomon’s home as a cook for the past one-and-a-half years. Solomon’s home is within the school premises, where her sister and Thomas have been living since Solomon was appointed the principal two years ago. Solomon’s sister teaches in the same school. The maid has been working in the school for the past six years, and it had been a year-and-a-half since she had been working in Solomon’s home as a cook after working in the school premises for four years. The maid’s mother has also worked in the same school for the past 22 years. Ever since the alleged 12 July incident, the maid and her mother have stopped going to the school.
The maid, in her 30s and a mother of three daughters, told The Sunday Guardian, “I tried to commit suicide as I couldn’t bear the taunts of some of my co-workers that (12 July) morning. I got impulsive and decided to end my life to prove my innocence. I drank phenyl, but other staff members rushed me to the hospital.” However, the maid did not mention suicide in the MLC (Medical Legal Case) that was filed on 12 July in the Tis Hazari Chowki after she was admitted to the St. Stephen’s Hospital. The maid, however, claimed: “I earlier told police that I drank phenyl by accident, mistaking it for soft drink Fanta. One of the principal’s close aides asked my mother to keep the truth hidden because the school principal is a powerful woman. We did not take any action right away because my two younger daughters study in Queen Mary’s School.”
Apparently, the maid had her duty “shifted” to the school’s dining hall from Solomon’s home after Thomas’ wife came to know about her husband’s alleged advances towards the maid.
The domestic help said, “On 1 July, he (Solomon’s brother-in-law) was caught red-handed by his wife when he was trying to force himself on me in the bathroom. The principal assured me then that she would allow me to continue working in the school if I did not mention the incident to anyone. But I was so disturbed that I did not go to work for a week. Later, when I got to know that now on, I would work in the school’s dining hall and not in principal’s home, I returned to the school. But on 12 July, rumours were doing the rounds in the school and some of my co-workers called me names and accused me of taking money to keep quiet. That is when I decided to prove my innocence by giving up my life.”
Solomon agreed to meet this correspondent, but did not allow her statements to be recorded. Sitting along with six other staff members in her school’s office, including the school’s manager, Solomon told The Sunday Guardian, “What proof do you have that the allegations are true? I reject these baseless charges. You should also pay heed to other possibilities wherein this person might be trying to extract personal gains. When the maid had told me that she had been molested within the house, I took action and shifted her duty. I did not believe her allegations, but still to ensure her job security, I did not fire. On the day she drank phenyl, I was not in the school and when the news reached me, I came back to the campus as soon as possible. On my return, I ensured that her medical bills were duly paid and that she received proper treatment. I absolutely reject the molestation allegation she has made. When she told me about the alleged molestation, I did not see any scars or other assault marks on her body.”
The maid’s mother said, “Principal Solomon has always been nice to us. I don’t want my granddaughters to lose their admissions in this prestigious school. We tried to tell the principal many times about the kind of comments her brother-in-law would pass at my daughter, but she turned a deaf ear every time.”
On the condition of anonymity, a school student said, “Everybody in the school knew that something had happened. When students heard the rumours, they wanted to protest, too, but were discouraged. The school has been abuzz with various versions of the story for over a week now. In the last week, strong restrictions were imposed by the school authorities on family members of students staying in the school hostel.”
One of the administrative staff members of the school, requesting anonymity, told The Sunday Guardian, “It is against the rules for the principal’s sister and brother-in-law to live within the school premises. But the current principal had allowed it.”
Rejecting allegations that she had asked the maid and her family to keep mum, Solomon said, “The maid’s two daughters are studying free of cost in this school because I gave them admission. I have helped this lady with her children’s school accessories as well. I have taught her how to cook and she has eaten at my home and taken food from my home to feed her family. Her mother, father and brother-in-law, too, work in our school and they had been hired here by contractors. The reason why this person is levelling false allegations at my school and family is that she wants to become a permanent employee. Right now, she is being paid Rs 7,000 and if she becomes permanent, her salary might be raised to Rs 10,000; that’s all.”
Asked whether the rules of the only for girls’ school allow the principal to keep her extended family members within the school premises, David, the school’s manager, said, “The school is part of a trust. So this matter should be dealt with between the school and the respective trust. Currently, the broad guidelines allow the principal’s dependents, too, to live with her.”
Solomon said, “The earlier principal, too, lived here with her family and some other extended relatives. Right now, I live here with my father, my sister and brother-in-law and their kids. My father is an old man and I cannot look after him alone. That is why I prefer to live with my sister. My brother-in-law, too, isn’t a healthy person and has a medical condition wherein his platelets count remains consistently low. How can a physically unfit person molest someone?”
Queen Mary’s School is affiliated to a prominent church here. A senior member of the church said, “In the academic council meeting, Solomon defended herself by saying that the complaint has been filed against her brother-in-law so why she should be penalised. Since the school is also aided by the government we cannot suspend her right away. On Tuesday, a government representative will attend the second academic council meeting where the principal’s suspension will be finalised. For now, the academic council has directed principal’s family to vacate the school premises within 24 hours.” According to sources, principal Solomon has asked for an indefinte leave starting yesterday.
Asked about the church’s reaction, Solomon said, “I have not been informed about any such discontent in our church circles.” Solomon also hinted at a possible conspiracy by an insider to malign the school’s image by “instigating” the maid to “blow things out of proportion”.