A 19-year-old college student is battling for life in hospital after she was set on fire allegedly by her husband and in-laws in Ranchi on Friday night for demanding her right to be accepted as the daughter-in-law.
The girl Reshma Praveen had eloped with 23-year-old Asfaq Ansari, both of Irba village on the outskirts of Ranchi, in August last year.
However, Asfaq allegedly refused to recognise her as his wife when she reached his home on Wednesday.
According to the girl’s statement recorded by police, Asfaq along with his mother, father and sister drenched her with kerosene and set her on fire.
"I don’t know if I am going to survive but I wish Asfaq gets stringent punishment for breaking my trust," the girl said in her statement.
According to doctors attending to Reshma at the Apollo Hospital, the victim suffered "more than 80% burnt injuries".
"The girl’s condition is critical. She has been put on ventilator," an attending doctor said.
The victim was rushed to hospital by neighbours who rushed out after hearing her cries for help. "We doused the fire and took her to the hospital," said a resident of Irba.
Police have registered a case under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 498-A (cruelty on a woman by husband and in-laws) and 34 (acting with the common intent) of the IPC.
"We have registered a case and investigating the matter," said RS Patel, officer-in-charge of Ormanjhi police station. However, no arrests have been made till the time of filing this report.
At the time of the incident, Reshma was studying at the Maulana Azad College in Ranchi while Asfaq was working at a private firm in Jamshedpur, around 135 km from Ranchi.
Sources in Irba village said that the couple’s romantic liaison had started about two years ago.
The girl’s father Habibullah Ansari said she confessed to marrying Asfaq through court registration at Ranchi in August last year.
"My daughter informed me about the marriage after Asfaq denied accepting her as wife in September," Ansari added.
Incidentally, he claimed to have approached the panchayat three times for "justice" and each time the village body had "directed the boy’s family-members to accept her as their daughter-in-law".
While the girl’s father is a tailor, the boy’s family is involved in agriculture business besides farming. Irba village, located in the Ormanjhi area of Ranchi, is around 18 km from the capital.
However, family-members of Asfaq denied having set the girl on fire.
"The girl’s family is trying to frame us in a false case," said Sabira Khatoon, mother of Asfaq.
Several villagers of Irba claimed that the victim was "physically and mentally tortured" after she arrived at Asfaq’s residence on Wednesday.
The incident is the latest in a series of crime against women in recent times recorded in Jharkhand which has seen a spurt in similar cases over the past few years.