A woman panchayat leader was allegedly burnt to death for returning late from an interaction with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi during his visit to Assam on Wednesday.
The police are yet to confirm if the death of Bonti Chutiya, a Congress ward member of Bekajan gaon panchayat in eastern Assam's Jorhat district, was murder or accident. Her husband Someswar Chutiya, a farmer, also suffered 60% burns.
Unconfirmed reports, however, also claimed it could be a case of suicide.
Read: Women shower kisses on Rahul Gandhi as he tours Assam
The couple was rushed to Dibrugarh Medical College Hospital 130km east of Jorhat town soon after the incident was reported on Wednesday night. While Bonti died on Thursday, her husband was in a critical condition.
"We can get to the bottom of the case only after Someswar is able to speak," a senior district police officer said.
Bonti was rumoured to have been set ablaze as a punishment for kissing Rahul Gandhi. But members of a local women's self-help group – 600 of them interacted with the Congress vice-president – she took along said she was not among those who showered kisses on his cheeks.
Superintendent of police Amanjeet Kaur said a case of unnatural death had been registered. She said the victim died of burn injuries.
Kaur also clarified that the victim was not the one who was shown on television kissing Gandhi.
"There were some domestic issues in her family, and she could have been set ablaze for returning home very late, which is not considered proper for a 'bowari' (daughter-in-law) in these parts. But then, we don't know the reasons yet," a Bekajan panchayat member said, declining to be quoted.