Pullanna, husband of the 28-year-old Lakshmi Devi, who attempted suicide by immolating herself, alleged that police torture has led to his wife taking the extreme step.
Speaking to The Hindu, Pullanna, a manual labourer, said: “I received a call from my relative Balapeddanna and my wife from Anantapur on Friday saying that Devi was in his house. I set out to Anantapur to get her back. However, the police had already brought her back to the city before I reached Anantapur. I got to know of her suicide attempt on Sunday morning when I got a call from Ganganna, in whose house she was staying.”
According to Devi’s statement to the police, she attempted suicide owing to the humiliation after she was questioned regarding the alleged theft at the house of one Chennappa, a retired Air Force officer and his son, a doctor. According to the police, the Vidyaranyapura police had received a complaint from the family on June 15 stating that Devi had stolen 20 silk saris worth Rs. 50,000.
However, the police as well as Pullanna said that Devi had admitted to stealing 10 saris from the doctor's house. “My wife said that the doctor's neighbour, Lakshmi, had instructed her to steal the saris and had threatened to kill our two children using black magic if she did not do so. I would have paid for those saris if I knew that she would have tried to kill herself over the matter,” he lamented.
Though his wife had supposedly admitted to stealing the saris, Pullanna said he suspects that she may have been forced to confess by the police. “I do not even know how the police suddenly was able to locate her. They could not trace her for nearly a month,” he said.
According to police sources, Devi had stated that the doctor’s neighbour Lakshmi was in possession of eight of these saris while she had given two other saris to her mother, Narayanamma. They said that Devi had said she did not want to face the humiliation of being arrested and therefore attempted to end her life. The police said Lakshmi had, however, denied the allegation and said that she was not involved in the matter.
Devi was then detained for questioning by Vidyaranyapura police inspector D.V. Prasad. As she went missing after that, her relatives had been allegedly detained illegally by Prasad raising allegations against the inspector for violating human rights.
An inquiry was ordered by the City Police Commissioner Raghavendra H Auradkar following which a report was submitted by the JC Nagar Assistant Commissioner of Police Nagaraj, leading to the suspension of the inspector and a sub-inspector in the station.