The horrific death of a minor girl, who apparently fell to her death from the ninth floor balcony of a posh residential apartment in Whitefield, had shocked residents of Bengaluru.
Phoolmuni, a native of Assam, who was brought to Bengaluru as part of an alleged trafficking network, died on April 2. Phoolmuni was working as a house help for a couple - Vishal and Garima Mutt - at their home in Gopalan Grandeur apartment. The couple was accused of harassing her.
On Friday, Bengaluru Police arrested three men from an employment agency called Milan Enterprises in New Delhi.
After initial investigation, the police believe that 100 to 150 minor girls like Phoolmuni were brought by the agency to work in different homes in Bengaluru.
Another police team, which was formed to track Phoolmuniâ€™s parents in Assam, was successful in making contact with the girlâ€™s father, 47-year-old Gopinath Murmu.
Gopinath, a resident of Tengaigaon village in Kokrajhar district, was brought to Bengaluru on Friday.
ACP Hemanth Nimbalkar told TNM that the post-mortem will be performed on Saturday after completing the consent formalities.
The Mahadevapura police had registered a case of death under suspicious circumstances along with sections under human trafficking after Stree Jagruti Samiti, an NGO working for rights of domestic workers, filed a complaint.
Initially, the couple had maintained that Phoolmuni was an orphan and that they were taking care of her.
However, the Bengaluru police have learnt that Phoolmuniâ€™s father had no clue how his daughter ended up in the city.
â€śThe girl was taken away from her parents after they were paid money by a person from Milan Enterprises, who promised Gopinath that his daughter would find employment and a better lifestyle,â€ť a senior police officer said.
â€śThe couple (Vishal and Garima) had paid Rs 50,000 and had taken Phoolmuni with them to Bengaluru as their house help. The couple did not pay the girl or her parents, but they were paying the agency,â€ť he added.
According to the police, Phoolmuni may have been brought to Bengaluru when she was 15 years old. The ration card procured by the police from Phoolmuniâ€™s father reveals that the last time she was in Assam was in 2012 and she was only 12 years old then.
Phoolmuni had come to work for Garimaâ€™s mother, Late Colonel Grover's wife, Prema Grover in 2014 through Milap Enterprises, a Delhi-based agency. When Garima got pregnant, Prema came to Bengaluru with Phoolmuni.
â€śThe agencies normally operate through direct transfer of the minor. The employer in this case paid Rs 50,000 to the agency as a one-time transaction. The girl was not paid anything,â€ť says Geetha Menon of Stree Jagruti Samiti.
According to Geetha, Phoolmuni was 15 or 16 years old and was constantly harassed by Vishal and Garima. â€śThe other residents in the building had told them to stop harassing the girl, but the couple blamed the girl for not being clean,â€ť Geetha says.