Eleven-year-old domestic help Joba Akhtar, who on Friday suffered severe burns inside a city flat, died at a hospital yesterday, leaving confusions over who had set her on fire.
Police and her employer, a bank official, claim that she set herself afire. However, Joba's family suspects it was a murder by the members of the family she worked for over a year and a half.
Rima Begum, the girl's mother, said the incident happened at the house at Siddheswari on Friday morning, but she was informed about it hours later in the evening.
“Joba had requested me to take her away from the house last month. I had promised her to do that after getting my next month's salary,” an emotional Rima, who works as a cleaner at Mohakhali, told The Daily Star over the phone.
With 95 percent burns, Joba breathed her last at the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital around 8:00am yesterday, said Partha Sankar Paul, resident surgeon at the unit.
Following an autopsy, her body was handed over to her mother, said police. Later, it was taken to Sonatola upazila of Bogra for burial.
Earlier, quoting the girl, Sharif Hossain, sub-inspector of Ramna Police Station, said she tried to set herself on fire inside the kitchen of her employer's house. He, however, could not say why she would do that.
The police official said he came to know from the employer that the girl was mentally instable – a claim rejected by Joba's mother, who also accused the employer's family of repeatedly beating her daughter.
While groaning in excruciating pain at the hospital, Joba could only say that Synthiya and Poly, members of the family, beat her up.
Mashiure Rahman, officer-in-charge of Ramna Police Station, said no case was filed over the incident till last evening.
Police were investigating to find out who had set the girl on fire, he added.