A minor was allegedly set on fire on Sunday night by her husband and mother-in-law for not meeting their dowry demands, just three months after she eloped against the wishes of her parents in Begumganj town of Raisen district.
The victim, 16, suffered 90% burn injuries and is struggling for her life at the Kamla Nehru Hospital in Bhopal, about 50km from Begumganj.
The victim’s husband and in-laws, however, denied the charges and said the victim had set herself on fire for unknown reasons.
Though police registered a case they are yet to record the victim’s statement due to her serious health condition.
"The victim’s parents have complained that she was being harassed for dowry. We will decide on the next course of action after recording her statement," said Begumganj town inspector Arvind Raghuvansi.
The victim, a class 10 student, had eloped with Zuber Khan, a resident of same town. Her parents were against the relationship, though both belonged to the same community.
The girl’s family-members said she was being harassed by her husband and in-laws for dowry since the first day of her marriage.
"They were forcing her to bring dowry from us, but she had refused. She had called me at times to say that she was being harassed by her in-laws for dowry," said the victim’s brother Ameen Khan.
On Sunday night, her husband and mother in-law allegedly poured kerosene on her and set her afire.
Her husband, however, denied that she was set afire by him and any other member of his family.
"She set herself on fire; we don’t know the reason behind her step. When we saw her in flames we immediately doused the fire and rushed her to nearby hospital. Me and my mother also sustained burn injuries while dousing the fire. We never harassed her," the victim’s husband claimed.
However the victim’s brother said that the family did not inform them about the incident.
"We got information about it from others and rushed to the hospital," he added.
The victim’s cousin Fazal Khan said her screams alerted the neighbours who doused the fire and rushed her to the hospital.
"I have an audio recording of her statement where she has said that she was set on fire by her in-laws and husband," Fazal added.