She saved many a child bride in her long career as a supervisor in the Madhya Pradesh Women and Child Development Department, in exchange they chopped off her helping hands.
Today, seven years and eight operations later, Shakuntala Verma can barely grip a pen with her right hand, and her left hand cannot do that either, but she is still working. After 27 years of service she is yet to get a promotion.
The Indore police, meanwhile, are yet to crack the case. "One person had been arrested, but was later released. Now, the case is almost closed," Verma told Hindustan Times.
It was the summer of 2005 and the eve of Akshaya Tritiya, considered an auspicious day for marriages, Verma was home alone when a youth stopped by seeking directions. As she bent to read the address, he hit her on the forehead. When she regained consciousness, her left hand was severed into 16 pieces.
Verma is convinced the incident had to do with her campaign against child marriage in Bhangarh village in Dhar that year.
"The SDM had received a complaint about 29 child marriages that were about to take place there. When I went to investigate, one villager got furious with me when he discovered that he had been named as a complainant," recalled Verma.
"He said the people named were his relatives and they would cut off his limbs for complaining. And, if that happened, the same would be my fate, too."
Verma's husband, who was previously working with a private firm, has quit his job to look after her.