Friends and teachers of the girl, who died after being molested and thrown off a moving bus in Punjab's Moga on Wednesday, said the 13-year-old was a bright student who dreamt of joining the police force and was fond of dressing up.
As grief-stricken residents of Landeke village sought justice for the girl, a group of girls — her cousins and friends — cooked meals for the people staging a sit-in protest outside the Moga civil hospital.
The family of the girl has refused to cremate her or allow a post-mortem and sat in protest outside the hospital where the mother of the teenager — also pushed out of the bus — was admitted.
Recounting her association with the girl, her childhood friend Soma Rani said she was fond of dressing up.
"She borrowed my footwear before leaving with her mother and brother to Kotha Guru Ka on the fateful day," said Rani.
"It is difficult to come to terms with the harsh reality that my friend is no more. She always dreamt of joining the police services to provide justice to the weak and needy," she added.
The eyes of her cousins — Parminder and Seema — welled up with tears as they made chapattis in the courtyard of her uncle Ajmer Singh's house.
"We are preparing a meal for the people fighting to get justice for our sister. We pray that they succeed in bringing the culprits to book. She was energetic and was the support system for the family. She always motivated us to make a career for ourselves despite being younger than us," said her cousin.
Ajmer's house, which is adjacent to the victim's, had more than 20 people, including friends, relatives and neighbours. Their cell phones were buzzing with updates from the civil hospital where her mother is undergoing treatment.
The girl's one-room house was proof of how the family struggles every day to make ends meet.
"To help her mother, who works as a domestic help in houses, she used to complete all household chores before leaving for school. She was mature for her age and managed everything well," said the girl's aunt, Kuldeep Kaur.
The head teacher at Government High School, Landeke, Gursharan Kaur said she was a bright and energetic student. She always volunteered to help others, including the teachers.
"I do not remember a day when she missed out on greeting me with a smile. She was in the good books of her class teacher as she participated in all extracurricular activities," said the head teacher.
Every individual coming to mourn the girl's death were scrutinised by the police deployed outside the house of the girl. Even the family had no clue why the cops were there.
They did not leave them alone and overheard every conversation between the family members and outsiders, including reporters.
The mother told the police that she and her daughter had boarded the bus from Moga at around 4pm on Wednesday and were pushed off after being subjected to indecent gestures and lewd comments following an altercation over the price of the tickets.
Four people have been arrested in the case and sent to four days in police custody.