After fighting for her life for almost three weeks, the Dalit girl from Sayla, who was allegedly set on fire by her neighbours from her own community last month, succumbed to burn injuries in Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad on Thursday. But two government servants, who have been arrested in connection with this case, have escaped suspension so far, thanks to technical reasons.
Chandrika Parmar, the 15-year-old girl from Sayla town of Surendranagar, died in Ahmedabad around 2 pm on Thursday after battling for her life for 17 days. She was allegedly set on fire by her neighbour, Motibhai Sunesara, a tracer with the Town Planning Department of the state government, and seven other members of his family on June 15.
Police say the incident was a result of an ongoing dispute between Parmar’s mother and Motibhai’s daughter Sangeeta Vaghela, principal of a primary school in Sayla taluka, over spilling waste water on street in their neighbourhood of Ambedkarnagar.
“Now that the victim has died, we shall move court to convert this into one of murder from the original FIR registered under section 307 (attempt to murder of the Indian Penal Code,” Limdi DySP Gaurav Jasani told The Indian Express.
Motibhai, his son Raj and son-in-law Ganesh Vaghela were arrested by police on June 17.
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Sangeeta, her mother and two sisters were arrested on June 21. But Motibhai’s son Dhaval had remained on the run till June 30. The DySP said that all the accused were in judicial custody now.
According to rules, any government servant spending 48 hours in police or judicial custody is deemed to be suspended. However, a technical issue has saved the father-daugther duo from such action so far.
The Sayla police, who arrested the duo, wrote to Town Planning department and Education department respectively on July 1 to inform them of the arrest of Motibhai and Sangeeta. While the branch office of the town planning department in Surendrangar received the letter of the police-sub inspector (PSI) of Sayla on Wednesday, the district primary education officer (DPEO) of Surendranagar received the intimation only Thursday.
“After reading about the incident in newspapers, I wrote a letter to Sayla police on July 1. However, we received the letter from the Sayla PSI on July 3. I am forwarding the matter to higher officers in our department for suitable action against Motibhai,” Town Planning branch officer in Surendranagar, Bipin Gamit said.
DPEO Bhavesh Dave said, “The letter from Sayla police was delivered at the office of the District Education Officer (who controls secondary education). But our taluka primary officer in Sayla inquired with the police and the letter finally reached us on Thursday. We are reporting the incident to the commissioner of primary education this evening itself.”
But the in-charge SP of Surendragnagar, Panna Momaya, claimed there was no unusual delay in intimating departments of the two government servants.
“We had communicated to the District Magistrate of Surendrangar immediately after arresting Motibhai on June 17 and also informed that Sangeeta had also been named in the complaint. So far as intimating respective departments of government servants is concerned, we can do it only after all the accused in a particular case are arrested,” said Momaya.
The SP explained that Dhaval had been absconding till June 30. “Immediately after Dhaval’s arrest, we informed the Town Planning and Education departments,” Momaya said.