A video of a tribal woman, who worked as a domestic help in Jharkhand, accusing her employers of brutal torture and abuse has surfaced online. In the video, the victim, Sunita painstakingly recounts the details of the torture allegedly inflicted upon her by her employer, Seema Patra.

As the videos went viral, several major news media outlets covered this story wherein they identified Patra as the “wife of an ex-IAS officer”. ANI tweeted, “Police team rescued a 29-yr-old woman working as a domestic help at the residence of an-ex IAS officer on Aug 22, after she was allegedly physically tortured by her employer.” (Archived link)

Pro-BJP propaganda outlet OpIndia tweeted their stories both in Hindi and English. The English caption reads, “Wife of Ex-IAS booked for torturing maid, a tribal woman, used to force her to clean toilet with tongue”, and the Hindi caption reads, “Domestic help tortured with a frying pan, thrashed with an iron rod, forced to clean faeces with her tongue: if the son objected, he was called ‘crazy’ and was sent to a mental hospital.” (Archived links- 1 and 2)

Times Now tweeted a clip of their coverage of this story with the hashtag #ShameSecularHypocrisy. The caption also identified the accused as the “wife of ex IAS officer”. In a subsequent tweet, Times now used another hashtag #SorenMustResign while reporting on the incident. (Archived links- 1, 2)

DNA tweeted their report with the caption “Ex-IAS officer’s wife #SeemaPatra accused of torturing maid, her son shielded the victim”. (Archived link)

Dainik Bhaskar tweeted their story with the caption, “रिटायर्ड IAS की पत्नी ने 8 साल बंधक रखा: दिव्यांग बोली- जीभ से फर्श साफ करवाया, पेशाब पिलाई; सालों से सूरज की रोशनी नहीं देखी”. This caption, like the others, only decsribed Seema Patra as the wife of a retired IAS officer. (Archived link)

Republic Bharat also identified Seema Patra as the wife of an IAS officer. (Archived link)

Analysing Seema Patra’s social media

Based on Seema Patra’s social media presence, it can be ascertained that Patra is a BJP worker. Her Facebook page bio reads, “State Convener, Beti Bachao – Beti Padhao, BJP Jharkhand Member – National Working Committee, BJP MA” while her Twitter bio reads “Member National Working Committee M.morcha State Convenor, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, State In-charge Policy & Research”.

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Her Facebook page cover photo (check below) is a picture with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah, most likely clicked in 2018.

The last post on her Facebook page is from April 2019, in which she can be seen campaigning for BJP during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Alt News found that the official handle of BJP Mahila Morcha uploaded a photo of Seema Patra along with other BJP workers on April 6, 2022, from the inauguration of “BJP Foundation Day” program at the National Office in New Delhi. Her name has also been mentioned in the caption (Archived link). On June 2, 2022, BJP Mahila Morcha Meghalaya’s Facebook page also uploaded a picture of a virtual meeting about the Mahila morcha training camps. Seema Patra can be seen in the meeting and has been identified as an “executive member” in the caption.

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We also found a News 11 video coverage on Seema Patra’s page, identifying Seema as BJP’s Beti Padhao Beti Bachao State Convenor. In the video, Patra can be seen giving a speech to schoolchildren on the occasion of Independence Day, as part of a Beti Padhao Beti Bachao committee. The video was shared on Seema’s page in April 2019.

Posted by Seema Patra on Tuesday, 9 April 2019

In April of this year, Seema Patra tweeted pictures from an event at the BJP State Office. Former Chief Minister of Jharkhand and Leader of Opposition Legislative Party Babulal Marandi, General Secretary (Organisation) Dharampal Singh and President of the BJP Mahila Morcha Vanathi Srinivasan can also be seen in the picture. (Archived Link)

After videos of her domestic help accusing her of torturing and abusing her went viral, Seema Patra was suspended by the BJP on August 30. Jharkhand BJP chief Deepak Prakash ordered the action against Ms Patra after videos of her domestic help accusing her of torture went viral. This further confirms Seema’s BJP affiliations. Sunita, who is 29 years old, was employed by the Patras a decade ago. Over the last six years, Sunita alleges that she was subjected to brutal torture by Mrs Patra and her daughter. Speaking through immense pain, Sunita recalls in the videos details of the pain and abuse allegedly inflicted upon her by the mother-daughter duo. According to the NDTV news report, Sunita states that Seema Patra’s son Ayushman was the only person who defended her.

Regional online news outlet The Followup interviewed the man who filed the FIR against the Patras. The interviewee, Vivek Baskey, who claims to be a friend of Ayushman’s (Seema’s son), stated that he was informed about Sunita’s condition by Ayushman himself. However, Seema Patra then allegedly spun a false narrative about Ayushman and they admitted him to Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry & Allied Sciences. At that point in time, Baskey was unsure about the chain of events but did not question Ayushman’s admission to the institution initially. Eventually, he managed to piece all the information together and requested rescue operations. Sunita was found on August 22. Baskey alleged that no action had been taken by the police since the rescue. He also insisted that Sunita was not disabled, contrary to several media reports. As of August 31, it has been reported that the police have arrested Seema Patra.

Thus several media outlets reported on this issue and identified the accused Seema Patra only as the wife of an ex-IAS officer in their tweets and left out her professional role as a BJP Jharkhand Member. Times Now, DNA, and Dainik Bhaskar do however acknowledge that Seema Patra is a BJP worker in their video coverage and articles respectively. But they do not mention this fact in their tweets. It is pertinent to note that OpIndia and Republic Bharat have left out Seema’s BJP connection inside the articles as well.

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