Manvendra Singh, a resident of Murwal village near Varanasi, narrates the story of his sister, Sonika. She was burnt by her in-laws who demanded more dowry even after her family had satiated their greed with Rs. 2 lakh at the time of her marriage itself.
Sonika on her wedding day, seven months ago. (Rajesh Kumar/HT Photo)
Manvendra Singh, Murwal village, Varanasi
I had to cremate my beloved sister Sonika for a second time on July 22, 2014. Her in-laws and husband had given her the first one a day before — they had burnt her alive.
It was hardly seven months ago when we married Sonika to Rajeev Singh, son of Chandrabhan Singh of Bhojapur village. However, barely a month after their marriage, her in-laws started torturing her for dowry.
Even after I expressed my family’s helplessness, they kept on demanding `2 lakh cash. This harassment came after we had already fulfilled all their demands of dowry, including `2 lakh cash at the time of the wedding.
It was just like any other Monday evening (July 21, 2014), and I was sitting in my house with my father. At around 9:15pm, my mother received a call from Chandrabhan Singh, my sister’s father in-law informing us about her death.
We rushed for Bhojapur, which is about 45 kms from our village Murwal. Throughout the journey, I kept on assuring my father not to worry.
I was sure that her in-laws could never kill her and the telephone call was just another ploy to pressurise us for more dowry. In the past too, Sonika’s in-laws had pressurised us to fulfil their demands by making absurd calls.
However, our worst fears came true when we reached Sonika’s house and spotted her charred body lying in one corner of a room. I could not spot Sonika’s husband in the house but her in-laws and two sister in-laws were present.
Before we could understand the gravity of the situation, all of them fled.
I called the police but no one arrived the entire night. My sister’s charred body was lying there while the culprits had escaped in front of my eyes and I could not do anything.
It was evident that Sonika was burnt alive somewhere else and the body was placed in the house. Except her body, not a single item in the room was burnt. Even the card box on which Sonika’s hand was resting was intact.
The police arrived the next morning and sent the body for post mortem examination. After the district magistrate’s approval, we cremated her.
(As told to Pawan Dixit)