Maid set herself on fire, say couple's relatives

Family of accused couple says domestic help took drastic step because of quarrel over payment after dismissal from service

A day after a domestic help alleged her employers torched her, relatives of the accused couple presented a totally different side of the story. The domestic help Pushpa Vibhute (48) of Ambegaon Budruk claimed that kerosene was poured on her back following an altercation with her employers. She sustained burn injuries all over her body but little on her back. The incident took place in Chaitanyanagar in Dhankawdi on Sunday.

Who's saying the truth? Shailesh Lokre undergoes treatment at a
private hospital for 25 per cent burns he sustained while trying to
douse the fire. pic/Kaumudi Gurjar

The police then booked an architect and his computer engineer wife for allegedly setting her ablaze on the basis of her statement. Vibhute who is undergoing a treatment for 80 per cent burns is reportedly critical.
Police Sub Inspector N B Kale said that Vibhute had injuries all over her body and minor injuries on her back. He added that if the kerosene had been poured on her back, she would have sustained maximum injuries there.
The police said, according to the statement given by Vibhute, she had demanded back the money from Shailesh Lokre (30) and his wife Prachi which they had been depositing in the bank for her future by deducting it from her salary for the last six years.

The relatives of the couple told MiD DAY that it was she who torched herself after her employers decided to fire her and refused to pay her three month's salary. Shailesh, who allegedly tried to save her also sustained 25 per cent burn injuries on his entire right hand, neck and face. He has been admitted to a private hospital.
Relatives said the couple was paying Vibhute Rs 1,500 for washing, cleaning and making rotis and all her claim that they were depositing money in the bank was false.

Shailesh's father Shankar who traveled from Usmanabad told MiD DAY that when Prachi told her she would be sacking her, Vibhute pleaded with her. When she saw Prachi was firm on her stand, Vibhute started demanding three month's salary and bonus. As this demand resulted in a brawl between the two, an enraged Vibhute sprinkled kerosene from a bottle and torched herself with the help of matchsticks.

Vibhute has said in her statement that she working with the Lokres for the last six years, but Lokre's parents said that they had purchased the flat only three-and-a-half years ago and no dues remained. Lokre's architect friend said the couple had asked Vibhute to quit earlier also, but she had pleaded and asked them to allow her to do the job. Shankar said if the couple had done anything wrong, they would not have tried to save her and admit her in the hospital.

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