Andhra Pradesh police arrested a man and his brother at a village in West Godavari district on Sunday for allegedly burning alive a 17-year-old girl who rejected his advances.
D Chinna Babu and his brother, D Pedda Babu, were taken into custody a day after the girl, Pydala Indumathi, was set ablaze at her house in Chataparru village – about 65 km from Vijayawada.
Indumathi, who suffered 90% burns in the incident, died in a hospital at Eluru town on Saturday night. The girl reportedly stated in her dying declaration that the two brothers had entered the house while she was alone, then set her afire after dousing her with kerosene.
The girl’s relatives claimed that Chinna Babu had been stalking Indumathi for a few months, forcing her to discontinue her studies. Last week, the girl’s relatives beat him up for harassing the girl, after which they retaliated. The police then summoned both the families and tried to defuse the situation.
The area witnessed some tense moments on Sunday as the victim’s uncle, Subba Rao, tried to commit suicide by hanging himself in the vicinity of the hospital where Indumathi’s body was being kept. However, police foiled his attempt.
State minister for women empowerment Peethala Sujatha and women’s commission chairperson N Rajakumari later visited the hospital, and assured stringent action against the accused.
However, activists of various groups – including the Students Federation of India and certain women’s organisations – tried to prevent the two from seeing Indumathi’s body. The protesters alleged that proper police action on complaints from the girl’s family could have prevented the incident.