‘Is a beautiful person, still can’t say was’: Kin of vet raped, killed in Hyderabad
Over the past few days, visitors of all hues, including union minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy, deputy chief minister of Telangana Mohammed Mahmood Ali, and governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, besides members of the National Commission of Women have been dropping in at the residence of the woman, whose charred body was found under a culvert on the outskirts of Shadnagar, on November 28. A police van has been stationed outside the gate, and white plastic chairs have been left out to accommodate visitors. A push cart tea seller directs us to the residence.
The uncle of the 26-year-old veterinary doctor told HT that the family is still in shock.
“She is a beautiful person. I still can’t say ‘was’. When one of the officials asked me my name, after we got to know of the incident, I went blank. That is the kind of shock all of us are in. Her mother and sister are inconsolable. Everybody comes and tell us justice will be done. What is the use? Will our smiling daughter comeback? After Nirbhaya [December 2012 gang-rape] too, nothing has changed. That is the tragedy of the country,” he said.
The uncle is the first cousin of the victim’s father.
It was her love for animals that drove her to become a veterinary doctor, though her rank in the medical entrance test made her eligible to study medicine, he said. “Even as a child, she was inordinately fond of animals… and fed stray dogs, cows, horses… [Her family] used to live in a small house so her dream to own a pet never materialised.”
The victim’s father has a transferrable job, and visits the family on weekends. “In fact he is due to retire in eight months and he was looking forward to being with his family and enjoying his retirement,” the victim’s uncle said.
Four things were central to her life: a love for animals, books, family time and cooking. The uncle recalled how the victim would lookup new recipes online, and experiment with dishes that her family would sample.
“We come from a conservative agricultural background and she read many books. Maybe if she was more experienced with the ways of the world, things wouldn’t have come to this,” said another relative who did not wish to be named.
The victim moved to this house three years ago with her mother and sister, after she began working.
Shalini, a neighbour who identified herself by her first name only, said that the family kept to themselves. “You would hardly notice them. All we saw was the girls going and returning from their jobs. They would smile and make small talk whenever we came across each other.”
Each day, the victim’s commute involved parking her scooty at the Shamshabad toll plaza, and then taking a bus or a shared taxi to her place of work — a common habit of many who travelled into the city from the outskirts. She was very close to her sister, whose work is located near the toll plaza.
On November 27, the victim did the same thing: she parked her scooty near the toll plaza, and took a shared taxi into the city. When she returned, she found the tyre punctured. Four men, who were sitting in a lorry, offered to help, and allegedly raped and murdered her in the intervening night of November 27/28. The following day, her charred remains were found.
The uncle said that in their community, when an unmarried girl dies, she is symbolically married to a tree before being cremated. “However we couldn’t even follow those rituals. All I can do is pray for her soul.”
“The chief minister of the state, K Chandrashekhar Rao has not sent even a condolence letter. I only hope that steps are taken to make India a safer place for women,” he said.