Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rape-murder of Wipro BPO employee shocks Pune

A shocking case of rape and murder of a BPO employee has thrown a question mark over safety for women working in call centres once again.

Two men were arrested in Pune on Saturday in connection with rape and murder of 22-year-old Jyoti Choudhry who was working for Wipro's call centre Spectramind in the city.

Jyoti’s body was found late on Friday evening at Wadgaon, off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The men are said to have been working for a logistics company which used to supply vehicles to the call centre.

Deputy commissioner of police (crime) Chandrashekhar Daithankar confirmed reports that Jyoti had left for office in the pick-up vehicle on November 1 at 2200 hrs (IST), but went missing after that.

Police came to know about the incident it at 1600 hrs (IST) the following day after her relatives lodged a complaint.

“Inquiry and investigation reveal she was picked up by the driver and his associate on November 1. They used the ploy of picking up another employee and took the girl to a nearby village and then murdered her,” said Daithankar.

Meanwhile, Wipro, in a press statement, expressed regret over the tragic incident .

"We deeply regret the demise of our employee Jyoti Kumari Choudhary. The police investigation is in progress. We are providing all possible assistance to the police and are not in a position to share further information at this point. We are extending support to Jyoti's family, and hope you will respect their need for privacy during their time of grief," the statement said.

In December 2005, a woman employee at Bangalore’s Hewlett Packard's call centre was allegedly raped and then murdered.

Her body was found on the outskirts of Bangalore three days after she went missing. Police eventually arrested a driver of the company, K Shivakumar. He is accused of kidnapping her after picking her up in the office car.

After Pratibha’s murder, BPOs and call centres across the country were asked to tighten their own security for women employees.

When President, Nasscom, Kiran Karnik was asked if Friday's incident was a failure on Nasscom's part to curb the menace that women call centre employees face, he said, "It's majorly due to increasing criminalisation. We need to get to zero crime. This incident has nothing to do with the fact that it's BPO. It's majorly to do with growing working culture for women.”

He, however, added that the BPO industry is aware of the threat and is taking acute steps to tighten security.

"There are various steps that can be taken. One is that women should not be the first or last ones to be picked or dropped. Second is to make use of technology and third to put a security guard in the cabs. In this case I don't know the details. All I can say is that it’s a terrible tragedy,” said Karnik.

In April 2007, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) had suggested certain measures for the safety of women who work late and use public transport.

Assocham had recommended foolproof security arrangements using the Global Positioning System or GPS technology. The industry association had particularly mentioned cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Chennai, Bangalore and Pune.

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