Staff Reporter

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The police have arrested Bhajan Lal, 30, of Pothencode on the charge of killing his wife, Sarita, 27. Sarita was admitted to the Medical College Hospital with 60 per cent burns on May 22. Sarita succumbed to her injuries early on Wednesday.

In her dying declaration given to the magistrate under section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Sarita said her husband had set her on fire. Sarita and Bhajan Lal had quarrelled on May 22 evening after she rejected his demand to wash the clothes of a guest.

Kazhakuttom Circle Inspector A. Pramod Kumar said Sarita ran in anger towards the kitchen, poured a can of kerosene over herself and threatened to commit suicide.

He said Bhajan Lal struck a match stick and threw it at Sarita. Mr. Kumar said Bhajan Lal ran out of the kitchen in alarm when Sarita caught fire.

The police said Bhajan Lal had committed the murder in a fit of anger.

Bhajan Lal’s mother, Radha, was arrested on the charge of dowry harassment. Sarita had filed a complaint against her at the State Women’s Commission this year, accusing Radha of constantly harassing her for more dowry. She also alleged in the complaint that Radha had appropriated Rs.3 lakh from her.

Mr. Kumar said Bhajan Lal and his mother first tried to portray the incident as an accident. The case came to light when Sarita spoke to the police from her hospital bed. Bhajan Lal and Radha absconded when they learned that the police had taken Sarita’s statement.

The police put on surveillance the telephones of the suspects and those of their relatives. They were arrested from Ayoor in Kollam district. The suspects were produced before the court on the charge of murder and remanded in judicial custody for a period of 14 days.