November 16 was the day Abhishek and Bhawna’s friends had planned to celebrate the couple’s union. Instead, they spent the day searching for Bhawna only to find out that she was dead.
It all began on November 4, 2012, a Saturday. As was their custom, Abhishek, then 22, and his close friend Vishal went to meet a friend at a party. According to Vishal, they were waiting for that friend outside Venkateswara College when they were greeted by two women, one of whom was 19-year-old Bhawna.
At that time, Abhishek was a BCA student while Bhawna was a ‘shy first-year student’ who did not speak much during their first meeting.
“But a month later, we knew they were a couple. We would all hang out together and go on outings across the city every weekend. Abhishek would ride his bike with Bhawna riding pillion. He even taught her to ride a scooty,” said Vishal.
Abhishek is currently pursuing MCA from IGNOU.
They went strong for more than a year. That’s when they hit their first roadblock.
Bhawna, whose father is a property dealer, told her parents about Abhishek and how she wanted to marry him. The couple tried everything to convince them, but failed. They even went ahead and fixed her engagement to a Gurgaon resident who was from their caste. She had fought hard with them then, Vishal remembered. The engagement was scheduled for November 22.
But Bhawna had other plans. She wanted to marry Abhishek before that happened. “They decided to marry, hoping that Bhawna’s parents would accept Abhishek in the days to come. We had planned a party on November 16 to celebrate the marriage. But it wasn’t meant to be. The day we were to celebrate, we were frantically searching for Bhawna. That evening we came to know that she had been murdered,” said another friend.
Bhawna’s friends told HT that Bhawna had been quite excited about the wedding. An indulgent Abhishek had gone with her when she had visited several shops in Tilak Nagar market in the first week of November to try out several outfits for her big day. She had finally settled for a red and blue lehnga which she wore on her wedding at the Arya Samaj temple. Abhishek had even bought a pendant for his new wife.
The two had given their outfits to a friend to keep their wedding a secret from their parents. On the morning of November 12, Abhishek left his house with his friends for the temple at Connaught Place where Bhawna was already present. The wedding took place there. The temple issued them a certificate and their friends signed up as witnesses.
They later went to Abhishek’s house to introduce Bhawna to his parents. Abhishek had last seen his new bride on November 14 when she was taken away by her parents after promises of a grand wedding. Two days later, he found out that she was dead.
Abhishek has not been home since then. “He does not want to go to a place that will remind him of Bhawna,” said a friend.