IIT student’s in-laws harassed her for pursuing Ph.D: father

Devastated: Family of Manjula Devak waits outside AIIMS mortuary on Wednesday.  

The family of 27-year-old Ph.D scholar, who allegedly committed suicide in her hostel room at IIT-Delhi on Tuesday, accused her in-laws of harassing their daughter for pursuing her studies.

Deceased Manjula Devak’s father Manoj Kumar Devak said, “She was a brilliant girl. She was going to complete her thesis next month, but her husband and parents-in-law wanted her to come back to Bhopal and do household work.” Her inconsolable mother Seema Devak fainted after looking at her daughter’s body at AIIMS mortuary on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr. Devak told The Hindu that he had already made it clear to the family before the marriage in 2013 that Ms. Manjula would pursue her Ph.D. “They had agreed then but later started torturing her,” he said.

“Was my daughter going to wash dishes and sweep the floor after completing her doctorate,” asked the father.

Dowry demand

He also alleged that her husband, Rajesh Virha, and in-laws used to beat her and had started demanding dowry after Rajesh, a software engineer, quit his job in Bhopal and came to live with her on campus in 2015. “He used to get drunk and abuse her, but she never told anyone because she was scared that the campus authorities would get to know,” Mr. Devak said.

Rajesh had allegedly asked Ms. Manjula to arrange ₹20 lakh from her father so he could start his own business.

Mr. Devak said that his daughter had tried to end her life in 2015 by slitting her wrists, but the matter was not escalated. “She accepted everything because she was scared for the future of her younger sister and brother; her marriage and his profession,” he said.

For the last two years, the father said, the husband and wife were not living together and he was asking for divorce. “She did not want divorce because of societal stigma.”

Gold medallist

Talking about her academic success, Mr. Devak said Ms. Manjula had received a gold medal during her B.Tech from a college in Indore. She completed her M.Tech from IIT-Delhi and was pursuing PhD in water resources.

Mr. Devak said he had given his complaint to the authorities and demanded that Ms Manjula’s husband and parents be put behind bars.

Rajesh, who was present at AIIMS mortuary, told The Hindu, “These are all allegations, let the truth come out.”

An official from office of Sub-Divisional Magistrate said the parents’ statements were recorded and Ms Manjula’s belongings were investigated under Section 176 of CrPC. “The police will be informed for necessary action,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 11:21:37 AM |

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