Woman set ablaze by mob in UP’s Sitapur critical, has 40% burns
A 20-year-old newly-wed woman was on Monday battling for her life with 40% burns two days after two men allegedly set her afire for refusing to withdraw her sexual harassment complaint against them in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur.
Residents alleged that police inaction in the case had emboldened Raju and Rajesh, who accosted the woman on Saturday when she had gone to relieve herself in a field along with other women of her village. Police said the two pressured the 20-year-old to withdraw the complaint. They poured kerosene on her and set her ablaze when she refused to do so.
With a total of 49,262 incidents of crime against woman, as per the National Crime Records Bureau 2016 data, UP has one of the highest rates of crime against women in India. According to data of Women power line (WPL) of UP, a total of 12,850 complaints of cyber harassment were lodged by women till October this year.
Raju and Rajesh fled when villagers rushed to rescue the woman. They were arrested on Sunday and booked for sexual harassment and attempt to murder. Police said the 20-year-old was first rushed to a community health centre and later referred to the Sitapur’s district hospital, where her condition was said to be stable on Monday.
The woman told the police that the two, who are brothers and her neighbours, had been harassing her for the last few months. She had earlier lodged a complaint against Raju but the police allegedly sat on it.
Zeeshan, a local resident, said the woman’s family had called up the police after a scuffle with the two over the harassment on November 29. “A police response vehicle visited the spot and referred the matter to Tambaur police station for further action. However, no action was taken, which emboldened the accused,” he said.
Uttar Pradesh police chief Om Prakash Singh has asked inspector general of police (Lucknow) Sujeet Pandey to submit a report about the incident. “Nobody will be spared for such gross negligence. Even the circle officer concerned, additional superintendent of police and Sitapur police superintendent will be questioned about police inaction and insensitivity,” said Pandey.
Tambaur police station in-charge OP Saroj and two other policemen, Manoj Kumar, and Chedi Lal, were earlier suspended for inaction in the case.
The woman and her family had thrice met Tauqeer Ahmed, the local circle officer, seeking action against the harassers. Pandey, who visited the 20-year-old at the hospital on Sunday, said an inquiry has been ordered against Ahmed. “Strict action will be taken against the officer if any laxity on his part is found.”
Pandey said an initial probe suggested police inaction. “Three cops, including the police station in-charge, were suspended and a departmental inquiry initiated against them. I visited the Sitapur district hospital to learn about victim’s condition and have ordered stern action against the accused.”