A 17-year-old Dalit girl was burnt alive, allegedly by her neighbour — who was reportedly stalking and harassing her — and three others in a Uttar Pradesh village on Saturday.
Before succumbing to injuries in a hospital on Sunday morning, the Class 12 student named her neighbour Mukesh as one of the four assailants, according to her family.
The girl was attacked in her village in Auraiya, around 90 km from Kanpur, when she had gone to attend nature’s call, said her father, a farmer.
He has lodged a complaint with the police.
The assailants allegedly blindfolded the girl before pouring kerosene on her and setting her on fire. The police are looking into information that some villagers noticed the girl engulfed in flames and screaming out her father’s name.
She was rushed to a local health centre from where she was shifted to a facility in Saifai, where she told her family she had recognised Mukesh by his voice.
The sub-inspector of the police station where the FIR has been registered said the cause of the attack was being probed. A hunt is on for Mukesh and three others who allegedly assisted him.
The girl’s father said Mukesh had attacked her last month as well in a field. She managed to escape and they had approached the police to register a complaint. The villagers, however, pressured him to enter into a compromise with the boy's family.
He said under the arrangement Mukesh apologised in public and assured that he would not harass the girl again.
“Had I known he would kill my daughter, I would have never backtracked from filing the complaint with the police,” he added.
“I saw her writhing in unbearable pain, lying on the ground burnt. I will not let Mukesh go unpunished.”
Another family member of the girl said, “She had stopped going to school because of his (Mukesh’s) behaviour. Complaints to his parents didn’t work either.”
The police denied the farmer had approached them to complain against Mukesh a month ago.
The police have recovered matchsticks and an emptied kerosene can from the crime scene.
Rapes and other crimes against women are reported with disturbing frequency in India. According to one study, a rape is reported on an average every 21
minutes in India and incidents of molestation are common.
Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, too has been hit by a raft of crimes against women. The state’s Samajwadi Party leadership came in for widespread criticism earlier this year for a series of shocking remarks on rape.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav faced massive backlash for saying during an election campaign in April, "Ladke, ladke hain, galti ho jati hai (Boys are boys, mistakes happen). That doesn't mean that you award them capital punishment."
His statement came in the context of death penalties awarded in some rape cases.