A two-month pregnant woman died, while her husband sustained severe burn injuries, after the couple were set ablaze on May 1 allegedly by the woman's family members, including her father, at a village in Ahmednagar district, police said Monday.
Rukmini Ransingh (19), who had sustained 70 per cent burns in the incident, died on Sunday night while undergoing treatment in Pune's Sassoon General Hospital, police said. Her husband, Mangesh Ransingh, a mason, is being treated for 50 per cent burns at the same hospital, they said.
According to Ahmednagar police, the incident took place in Nighoj village of Parnar taluka, around 55 km from Ahmednagar city, on May 1 afternoon. Police have launched a probe into the incident on the basis of the statement recorded by the couple while undergoing treatment and a dying declaration by Rukmini.
So far, police have arrested Rukmini’s uncles - Surendra Bhartiy and Ghansham Saroj - and have launched a search for her father, Rama Bhartiy, who had fled the village after the incident.
Police Sub-Inspector Vijaykumar Bothre of Parner police station in Ahmednagar, who is investigating into the case, said Rukmini’s family, originally from Uttar Pradesh, is settled in Nighoj village. "While Mangesh belongs to the Lohar community, Rukmini is from the Pasi community. The two fell in love and got married around Diwali last year, despite strong opposition from the members of the woman's family," Bothre said.
The PSI added that the wedding was held at Alandi in Pune due to the opposition of the woman's family. "While Mangesh's family members were present for the wedding, only Rukmini’s mother attended the ceremony. Ever since the marriage, Rukmini's family members had been threatening to harm the couple, saying they were against the inter-caste marriage," Bothre said.
According to police, on April 30, the couple had a fight over a petty issue, following which Rukmini went to her father’s house.
"In the statement to the police, Mangesh said that on May 1 Rukmini had called him and asked him to take her back home. When Mangesh went to Rukmini’s father’s house, he said, the woman’s family members allegedly refused to let her go. After a heated argument in the afternoon, two of Rukmini’s uncles poured petrol on the couple and set them on fire inside a room, while the woman’s father locked the room from outside," the PSI said.
On hearing their screams, some neighbours took the couple to a government hospital in Ahmednagar, police said. After primary treatment and assessment of the situation, the two were sent to Sassoon General Hospital in Pune for further treatment, police added.
"The woman and her husband were being treated for 50 and 70 per cent burn injuries, respectively. We have arrested her two uncles and have launched search for her father," Bothre told The Indian Express.
Dr Ajay Taware, medical superintendent at Sassoon hospital, confirmed that Rukmini succumbed to her injuries during treatment Sunday night, while Mangesh was still undergoing treatment.
Police said that after receiving Rukmini’s autopsy documents, the case will be upgraded to that of murder from the present charges of attempt to murder.
'He had sought help from cops, but complaint was ignored'
Mangesh, who is undergoing treatment after sustaining 50 per cent burns, worked as a mason at a construction site at Chandan Nagar in Pune along with his brothers Mahesh and Vikrant.
According to Mahesh, on May 1, Vikrant and he were in Pune, while Mangesh had gone to their native Nighoj village. "Around 3 pm on the day, we got a phone call that Mangesh’s in-laws had thrashed him and our sister-in-law Rukmini and later set them on fire. My sister-in-law, who was two-month pregnant at the time, died at Sassoon hospital around 9.30 pm on Sunday," Mahesh told The Indian Express.
Vikrant, meanwhile, said that the entire episode had left their family shocked. "Mangesh has received major burn injuries on his neck and other body parts. He had got to know that my sister-in-law was being harassed by her family members on May 1 and so he had sought the help from the local police in Nighoj. But I got to know that cops ignored his complaint. We want Rukmini’s family members to be given maximum punishment as per the law," he said.
Asked if Mangesh had approached the police on May 1, PSI Vijaykumar Bothre of Parner police station in Ahmednagar, said: "As far as I know, no one had approached us with this case."