The couple’s eight-year-old daughter died by drowning in the well while the mother and a six-month-old infant survived the ordeal, police confirmed.
The incident happened in Chhatarpur city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, when the accused Raja Bhaiya Yadav was bringing his wife and daughters back from her in-laws’ house.
Speaking to The Independent, police superintendent Sachin Sharma said the accused was arrested by the police on the same day and a case has been registered against him on charges of murder and attempted murder.
“The woman had given birth to three daughters and the man was angry about it. We are trying to ensure a fair trial so the man is convicted,” he said.
According to the police, on his way back to home the man took a detour and drove his motorbike off the road to a dug-out well. He parked his bike there and pretended to draw water from the well before pushing the three of them in.
"He pushed his wife and two daughters into the well. The accused threw stones at his wife as she struggled to come out of the well before absconding from the scene,” Mr Sharma said.
“His eight-year-old daughter died, while the woman and her six-month-old daughter were rescued by villagers who heard their cries," he said.
The woman sustained injuries to his head and lodged a complaint in a police station against her husband.
The incident again sheds light on the deep-rooted sexist cultural preference for male children over females in South Asian countries, rooted partly in the perception of sons as breadwinners.
Daughters are sometimes also seen as financial liabilities because of the stubborn persistence of the dowry in Indian society, in spite of it being illegal. Others fear having daughters who then become targets for sexual crimes.
SP Chhatarpur Sharma said that some villages around Chhatarpur continue to remain under the grips of such feudalistic believes. He said the local authorities were working towards creating awareness over these issues.
Despite successive laws to prevent it that include a ban on doctors revealing the gender of unborn children, India continues to have chronic issues of female feticide, infanticide and crime against women, all of which are tied to a skewed sex ratio that means India only has 940 females to every 1,000 males, according to the last census in 2011.