AN Indian government official responsible for championing women’s rights illegally sneaked an underage girl into the US to serve as a personal slave for herself and her husband, it is claimed.
Neena Malhotra and husband Jogesh allegedly forced the girl to sleep on the floor of their apartment inside the Indian Mission to the United Nations in between waiting on them hand-and-foot 16 hours a day, seven days a week, a new suit by the New York Post charges.
Shanti Gurung, now 21, claims her drudgery included giving daily massages to her mistress, who ironically headed a 2008 initiative against domestic abuse while serving as a Manhattan-based consul responsible for “women-related issues.”
Ms Gurung also handled cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands and chores – often until 3am following frequent parties in the couple’s Manhattan home, her suit says.
The Manhattan federal court filing – which seeks unspecified damages for three-plus years of “slavery and peonage” – says the Malhotras starved Gurung, with Neena once berating her for eating a slice of bread without permission.
Ms Gurung, who has only an eighth-grade education, claims the couple tricked her into accompanying them to America in March 2006 with the promise of 5,000 Indian rupees – about $127 – a month, with raises every six months.
But she only received a single payment of 5,500 rupees – about $US120 – and was threatened that “if she ever tried to leave, the police would beat and arrest her … take any of Ms. Gurung’s money and send her back to India as cargo,” the suit says.
She finally escaped in July 2009, fleeing while they were out of the apartment “to the home of a young woman she managed to meet when she went shopping for the defendants.”
The Consulate General of India in Manhattan did not return requests for comment.