A 28-year-old domestic help, who was pursued by the police after she was accused of stealing saris from her employer’s house, set herself on fire at her relative’s house at Dodda Bommasandra here on Sunday morning.

She sustained 73 per cent burns and is being treated at Victoria Hospital.

Lakshmi Devi had been missing ever since she was questioned by the police on June 16. This also led to the alleged illegal detention and harassment of her 56-year-old mother Narayanamma and father Obalesh for questioning by the Vidyaranyapura police inspector B.P. Prasad, who has since been suspended.

Ms. Lakshmi Devi, who was eventually traced by the police in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh, on Saturday, was brought to the city later in the evening by the city police and was taken to her relative Ganganna’s house at Dodda Bommasandra as her husband was not in the city.

After she was brought to the city, the police questioned Ms. Lakshmi Devi about the theft and the latter reportedly admitted to having stolen the saris. However, her relatives were left aghast when she set herself on fire in their house.

Mr. Ganganna told the police that Ms. Lakshmi Devi had not slept through the night after she was brought to their house around 9 p.m. on Saturday. The family grew concerned when they did not find her in the house around 4 a.m. They went out looking for her and found her in one of the streets nearby following which she was brought back home. Within minutes after she was confined to a room, Mr. Ganganna said he saw flames and rushed in to the room to find Lakshmi Devi having set herself on fire. The family then rushed her to Victoria Hospital where she is being treated. Medical authorities at the hospital, however, were not optimistic about her chances of survival.

A case of attempted suicide has been registered by the Vidyaranyapura police against Ms. Lakshmi Devi. The police, who recorded her statement, said that Lakshmi Devi had taken the extreme step as she was unable to bear the humiliation. Meanwhile, the local tahsildar will also be recording Lakshmi Devi’s statement to ensure an unbiased investigation, said the police.

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