She had climbed atop a mobile signal tower -- in a gender reversal of what Viru did in the '70s flick Sholay -- to demand that she be permitted to marry the man she loved. Placated by her family that day, little did Rani know that the affair could prove fatal for her 23-year-old beloved, who has succumbed to a severe assault by her family at Tibba village near Malerkotla, 35km from here.
The police arrested the father and a male cousin of the 21-year-old Dalit woman on Thursday after the victim - Hardeep Singh, a Jat Sikh from the same village - died of injuries he suffered at the hands of Rani's kin on September 26, hours before Rani went public with their affair.
Those booked include the girl's father, Nirmal Singh, her brother Sandeep Singh, and cousin Gulzar Singh. The brother remains at large.
Investigating officer (IO) Gurcharan Singh of the Sherpur police station said the family of the woman beat up Hardeep on September 26 early morning after they came to know about the love affair. They threw him at the periphery of the village from where some people rushed him to a hospital in nearby Dhuri. He was referred to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Ludhiana, where he died on Thursday morning.
The police said that on October 1, they had originally registered the case for the assault on the statement of Hardeep, and have now added section 302 (murder) of the Indian penal Code (IPC).
"As per X-ray reports, Hardeep had received multiple injuries on his legs and arms besides some intestinal injuries. We have handed over the body to the family after post-mortem examination," said the IO.
Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Harcharan Singh Bhullar was confident that the woman's brother would be arrested, too, in a day.
Hardeep was the only son of his family, and a pall of gloom descended on the village as the news of his death spread. Rani had told the police that she had an affair with Hardeep for many months, but her parents were against it and had barred her from going to school to restrict their meetings.