Twenty-nine-year-old Neha Yadav speaks of 11 years of unhappiness, the duration of her married life. It culminated in her being admitted to the burns ward of the Safdarjung Hospital with 45 per cent burn injuries.
“It is not about property or material things, I need to fight for the rights of my children because nobody else will,” she said.
On January 13, Neha, a resident of Sagarpur, West Delhi, was rushed to the hospital badly burned on her neck, chest and waist.
She had been set on fire allegedly by her brother-in-law Rajbir and his wife Reena.
Neha’s plight became one of the reasons for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal holding a dharna outside Rail Bhawan, paralysing Central Delhi for two days.
He took up the matter after minister Rakhi Birla visited Sagarpur and demanded that all the accused in the case (five of Neha’s in-laws) be arrested. Birla ended up in a verbal spat with the area SHO.
Doctors at Safdarjung hospital told Neha’s family that her recovery may take a long time, but she will survive.
“Even when I was pregnant with my first child, they dragged me down the stairs and threw me out of the house. My husband, Sonu, wanted to marry another woman,” Neha said.
The latest assault, Neha said, came after she refused to sign the divorce papers. “Sonu has been forcing me to file for divorce for two years. But, how could I leave him?” she said.
Their two children, 10-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, are now at Neha’s mother’s house.
“We had fixed their marriage 11 years ago. Sonu had come to our house to see her and he liked her then. But after their marriage, I don’t remember seeing my daughter happy in that (in-laws’) house. But she still refuses to come back to us,” Neha’s mother Maya said.
A week before January 13, the day Rajbir and Reena allegedly tried to set her on fire, Neha said her in-laws had thrown her out of the house along with her children.
“Neighbours tried to intervene, but they refused to let me stay there. I cannot go back to my parents’ house with my children. My brothers are living there with their families,” Neha said.
Even after all this, Neha said she would go back to her husband’s house. “I will go back to my husband’s house even if I have to spend my days outside the house, on the road. I will fight for my children’s rights,” she said.
Maya sits next to Neha’s bed, watching her daughter, making small talk. Occasionally, a tear rolls down her cheeks. “My daughter is beautiful,” she whispered.