Manjeet Kaur married Irwinder Singh in March 2011. They had met at an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) class. Kaur was a postgraduate in Punjabi while Singh was Class XII pass. Her parents’ home in village Asai Kalan was just an hour from her marital home in Jandi.
Six years later, Manjeet is dead, allegedly killed by her husband and his brother Nirmal Singh. The reason, according to her parents: she was pregnant, and it was going to be a baby girl again.
On the night of June 25, the two men allegedly force-fed her abortion pills, then pressed her stomach to force the foetus out. Irwinder and Nirmal have been arrested.
Manjeet’s father Balwinder Singh said a sex determination test had revealed that the baby she was carrying was a girl. Her first child, born after two years of the marriage, is a girl.
“At first she was beaten for not bearing a child. When she finally conceived, things didn’t improve either. In December 2013, she gave birth to her first child. The girl was named Simar. Irwinder was unhappy with Manjeet ever since. Manjeet used to visit us almost every month with a fresh complaint of domestic violence,” said Balwinder, a retired Army subedar.
The last time Manjeet visited her parents was on June 4. “She wanted diesel for the generator at Irwinder’s dairy farm and I bought it for her. I also gave her Rs 5,000 and dropped her home. I had given her a mobile too but her husband did not allow her to talk to us from that number. On June 25 at 9.05 pm, a call came from the same number that Manjeet is unwell. After two minutes when we called back, the person on the phone said, ‘Manjeet is dead. He identified himself as Irwinder’s cousin’,” Balwinder said.
Police said it was unclear if a sex determination test was done even though both Manjeet’s parents and husband are accusing each other of having taken Manjeet for the test.
“We have arrested both accused. We are investigating whether any more persons were involved,” SSP Jagraon Surjeet Singh said. “The accused have confessed to buying abortion pills. It is yet to be established if any sex determination test was conducted, though the aborted foetus was female.”
Irwinder and Nirmal are said to have confessed that they bought abortion pills but alleged that the sex determination test was done when she visited her parents. Manjeet’s parents Jaswant Kaur denied this. Manjeet’s father said, “He was the one forcing my daughter to abort the baby.”
Balwinder said two months ago, Irwinder had even sent the police to their house with charges “that we wanted to abort her second child. When police investigated, they got to know the truth”. Though Balwinder and Jaswant are publicly accusing Irwinder of getting the test done, they have not made this allegation in their statement to the police.
It was common knowledge that Manjeet was in an unhappy marriage. Bau Singh, president of the co-operative society of Aasi Kalan, said, “Once Irwinder beat up Manjeet in the village, I saved her.” Last June, the Jagraon police had mediated a compromise between the two families.
Balwinder said Irwinder used to demand money frequently. Manjeet’s father is a landless farmer living on his pension and her brother Paramjeet Singh runs a shop painting number plates for scooters. Irwinder’s family had 7 acres agriculture land.
Manjeet’s mother said: “When we reached Jandi village, we found her body in a freezer along with her dead female foetus wrapped in a dupatta.”
Hardev Kaur, Irwinder’s mother, said he and Manjeet led a separate life on the dairy farm. “She hardly used to meet me and my elder son Nirmal Singh. I had hired a help to cook for us and do the daily chores as
I am bedridden. So what happened on June 25, I don’t know,” she said. “My sons have been falsely booked. She was unwell on June 25 morning. She dropped in here at my house, but later I heard that she died at the dairy farmhouse. The abortion happened by chance.”
Manjeet’s family said they had no plans to bring their two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter home. Irwinder’s mother said she wouldn’t allow it even if they had wanted to. “I will raise my granddaughter, I will not let anyone take her,” she said.