Slow pace in probe - NCPA | Sunday Observer
Death of domestic aide at MP Bathiudeen’s home:

Slow pace in probe - NCPA

25 July, 2021

The National Child Protection Authority criticised the slow pace of investigations into the tragic death of the 16-year-old domestic aide at SJB MP and former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen’s house recently.

The NCPA Chairman Prof. Muditha Vidanapathirana told Sunday Observer, the unsatisfactory progress on the case led to widespread protests over her death, including two in front of the NCPA premises last week.


He said by the evidence unearthed so far the action can be taken against the perpetrators for child trafficking- a grave offence under the Penal code, sexual abuse and cruelty to a child under the care of her temporary guardians. He said it is believed the cruelty unleashed on her had resulted in a devastating end to her young life.

Three close relatives and the broker who brought the girl to the house of the former minister were arrested by the Borella Police on Friday in connection with the case. “Among the arrested are Bathiudeen’s wife, father-in-law and the brother-in-law,” a senior police officer at the Borella police said declining to divulge more details.

The brother in law is alleged to have raped a 22-year-old young woman who had worked as a maid at Bathiudeen’s private residence (same house) at Bauddaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7 between 2015 to 2019. This came to light during the investigations into the recent death.

The 16-year-old domestic helper identified as J. Ishalini was admitted to National Hospital, Colombo with severe burn injuries on July three and she succumbed to her injuries after 12 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The report by the Judicial Medical Officer, who conducted the postmortem stated, the burn injuries were consistent with a suicide.

The poverty stricken parents of the dead girl, at a press conference last week, alleged the investigations were taking an unusual twist with the police officers questioning if the girl had been sexually abused at her home in Dayagama before she came to Colombo.

This led to widespread protests countrywide and activists calling for justice to the estate girl.

Parliamentarian Mano Ganeshan who joined the street protests in Nuwara Eliya held by estate workers - despite the fact MP Bathiudeen is from his own political alliance - called for an impartial probe into the girl’s death.

Accusing that the investigations into the case was at a slow pace former JVP MP Dr. Nalinda Jayatissa also urged the law enforcement authorities to expedite in delivering justice to the victim.


Angry street protestors also questioned the JMO report which identified the death as a suicide, claiming that her death could have been a murder. The ex-Minister Bathiudeen is already in remand custody on charges of misappropriating public funds, in a case involving the 2019 elections.

Prof. Vidanapathirana said the district NCPA officer in Nuwara Eliya has reported that the teenager had been sold through an intermediate to the ex-Minister’s family to settle some debts.

The mother of the deceased at a press conference said she did not agree to send her daughter away to the MPs house but the girl volunteered to go to help her brother who was finding it difficult to repay the debts they had incurred during Covid-19 lockdowns.

The girl’s brother J. Thiruprasad said,”We did not see her since she left for work at their house in October 2020. I went to see my sister with our mother but they did not allow us to talk to her or see her.”

According to him the MPs family had agreed to pay Rs. 20,000 as a monthly salary for her services as a domestic aid.

“She had been psychologically and physically subjected to cruelty by her temporary guardians. The girl had been kept in an enclosure, a vulnerable and an insecure place outside the main premises. Anyone under 18 years is considered a child under Sri Lanka’s law and their actions can be deemed as cruelty to a child,” Prof. Vidanapathirana explained.

According to the NCPA, the girl had been 15 years and 11 months at the time of her arrival at the MPs house and she was 16 years and eight months at the time of her death.

Following the huge public outcry, two police units were deployed to expedite the investigations and a monitoring mission was appointed within the Attorney General’s Department last week to ensure the case is on track.

The two police teams comprising officers from the Divisional Crime Detective Bureau and Divisional Children and Women Bureau of Colombo South have been deployed to record statements and to collect circumstantial evidence on the matter.

The girl’s family had lived in Kiriwandala in Puwakpitiya prior to moving to Dayagama, hence the investigating officers on Thursday recorded statements from four persons in the area including the principal and vice principal of Kiriwandala Tamil School where the girl had studied for a while.

Prof. Vidanapathirana said, the minimum age for domestic work was raised from 14 years to 16 on January 18, 2021 in an arduous process.

The NCPA was currently in the process of revising the list of dangerous professions for a child, to expand it from current 52 to 76 including domestic work.

“I hope her tragic death would not be in vain. Her death will give that extra push for lawmakers to commit to this new important piece of legislation and make Sri Lanka a better place for our children to live.”

Picture courtesy - Lake House Kandy Office