New Delhi, Aug 22: The homeless woman who died after being caught in the wheels of a speeding SUV allegedly driven by a 20-year-old fashion designer in the Connaught Place area has stepped out of her shelter home before her death to earn her livelihood, according to one of her friends.
Phoolwati, 50, was dragged for nearly 500 metres on Sunday night by a Jeep Compass driven allegedly by 20-year-old Shreya Aggarwal, who was arrested shortly after the accident and then released on bail.
Phoolwati’s friend, Kiran, said she had not imagined that the inmates of the shelter home, near Bangla Sahib Gurdwara where the victim lived with her son, had seen her for the last time.
“She was the only bread-earner of her family. Her 19-year-old son Shanker is unemployed. She used to work in Shiv Mandir in CP as a cleaner and also as a ragpicker,” Kiran added.
Phoolwati’s husband, Sushil, died of tuberculosis two years ago and she is survived by three children – Shankar, Geeta and Ritu.
Phoolwati’s elder daughter, Geeta, is a widow and her younger daughter Ritu is pursuing fashion designing from an institute in Naraina area in Delhi.
“Ritu has never lived with her family. She spent her childhood at Salaam Baalak Trust and is currently pursing a course in fashion designing at the institute. Her education is funded by the trust,” said Santosh Kumar Gupta, a coordinator of the trust.
Shanker is preparing for Class 10 board exams. He never showed interest in studies, Gupta added.
The shelter home is being run by NGO ‘Humana People to People India’ near the gurudwara for nearly eight years now.
At 6 pm on Sunday, Phoolwati stepped out of the shelter home, wearing a salwar kameez, to sell junk, an inmate said.
“However around 10.30 pm, we were informed by Manju, who worked with Phoolwati in Shiv Mandir, that she has had an accident and taken to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital,” the inmate said.
A number of her inmates then reached the hospital. They said they were informed by patients there that policemen have brought Phoolwati but she was declared brought dead by doctors.
“We immediately rushed to Connaught Place police station. We were around 15-20 people. As soon as police saw us, they closed the main gate. They did not allow us inside. We protested and even abused the policemen for barring us. Even her son Shanker was not allowed inside,” another inmate claimed.
The inmates said she was cremated yesterday afternoon.
“I had seen her that day… I did not know that it was the last time I was seeing her,” the inmate said.
A few inmates alleged that the police registered an FIR in the matter after they protested outside the police station demanding justice.
(With PTI inputs)