We pulled her, but she jumped back
RARELY HAS the UP Police ever probed a case in which 200 people are accused of inciting a woman to jump on the funeral pyre of her husband, 12 detained for interrogation, her brothers-in-law and son put behind bars and all villagers absconding.india Updated: May 21, 2006 01:31 IST
RARELY HAS the UP Police ever probed a case in which 200 people are accused of inciting a woman to jump on the funeral pyre of her husband, 12 detained for interrogation, her brothers-in-law and son put behind bars and all villagers absconding.
A deathly silence prevailed at this nondescript, remote and dusty village that shot into news on the evening of May 18.
Women suspiciously peeped from behind the veil to scan every stranger, who entered the village, before disappearing into the muddy confines of the select hutments where some activity was still visible.
The few who reluctantly opened their doors and spoke, parroted lies about their absence from the village between 4 pm and 6 pm on Thursday — the time when Vidyawati, who the villagers feel had a hand in the murder of her husband Lakhan Lal, was consumed by flames leaping from the pyre.
Vidyawati, whose character was already under scrutiny of the villagers for her illicit relation with insurance agent Rohit, had been ‘escorted’ by some village women to the funeral pyre of Lakhan Lal. Stone-faced, she looked at the pyre and then apparently lost her balance and ‘fell’ right into the flames.
The mystery starts here. Lakhan Lal’s brother Kartar, who was arrested by the Bhindki police along with his sibling Ram Vishal on Saturday, told HT that he tried to pull Vidyawati out once. “But, this time she just jumped onto the pyre,” he says.
Why didn’t he try to pull her out again? Why were the villagers silent when she fell?
Says Ram Vishal, “Since my brother’s body had decomposed there was foul odour all around. It was hard to stay close to the pyre.”
Did Vidyawati shout for help? “No,” the brothers say in unison.
Is it possible, you ask?
They lower their eyes and raise their hands. Still, no one, neither the brothers, nor the few villagers that one got to talk to, hardly concealed the fact that Vidyawati was a woman of ‘easy virtue’.
So, could it just be possible that given the animosity towards her and the fact that she was subjected to humiliation, both mental and physical, ever since Lakhan Lal’s body was recovered, the villagers might have deliberately ignored her cries?
“Possible,” says Zarina Usmani, member, State Women’s Commission, who along with her colleague Shahin Fatima toured the village and later met the SP, Fatehpur Vir Bahadur Singh.
These are the facts. Piece them together for the larger picture.