Burnt and dragged down from the second floor by her husband on Thursday evening, a 24-year-old woman from Ghaziabad is battling for life at the Capital's Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital. With an oxygen mask being the only distinguishable thing on a face burnt beyond recognition and a body with several broken bones, doctors have said her chances of survival are bleak.
In the few words that victim Poonam muttered in a state of extreme pain after the incident, she told the police that her husband and mother-in-law poured kerosene oil over her and set her afire after abusing and assaulting her over dowry. It is alleged that even as she was on fire, her husband dragged her from the second floor in order to throw her outside the house. He sustained a few minor burns himself in the process.
Ramprakash and his mother Savitri have both been booked for attempt to murder and dowry harassment. While Savitri has been arrested, Ramprakash — who has also been admitted to the same burns ward where his wife is — faces arrest after his treatment is over.
Despite the extreme pain, Poonam has made repeated requests to see her one-month-old baby, who is with Ramprakash’s family members. They have, however, refused to send the child.
When The Hindu visited the burns ward of the hospital on Friday, family members were surrounding the bed on which a heavily-bandaged Poonam lay. Recounting the frequent instances when she was tortured by her husband’s family, her relatives said they came to know about Thursday’s incident from one of Ramprakash’s neighbours.
“We were informed around 8 p.m. that my sister had been burnt by her husband’s family. When we called them up, they told us she had set herself on fire and that Ramprakash got injured while trying to douse the flames. They did not even tell us which hospital she was taken to. By the time we found out and reached GTB Hospital, it was 9.15 p.m. She was denied any medical assistance by Ramprakash for nearly two hours after the incident, who delayed her hospitalisation on purpose,” said Gopal.
Her uncle Sanjay added: “At the time of their marriage in 2012, we sent her off with gifts we could afford since no specific demands were made from the groom’s side. However, they started making all kinds of demands after the marriage and Poonam’s husband even cast aspersions on her character in order to justify beating her up.”
Other reasons Ramprakash used to justify beating her up included her attempts to complete her college education and her interactions with her brother-in-law.
“Since the time they got married, he was insecure and suspicious. There was hardly any happy moment in their marital life. She had completed the first year of college and wanted to continue studying. However, he was opposed to it and refused to pay her fees, which was ultimately deposited by us. But he stopped her from writing exams and accused her of using this as an excuse to interact with other men. He abused and beat her up for it,” Gopal added.