One scored 97 per cent in her Class X exams and was hoping to make it to a good college in Gurgaon, the other checked her bangle box regularly to see if she had saved enough money to buy her sister a T-shirt. Both shared a dream: a life in America, a world removed from Rohtak.
On Monday, the two dreams died.
Stalked and harassed by a group of young men who followed them to their coaching institute and back, Nikita Duhan (17) and her friend Madhu (16) ended their lives after allegedly poisoning themselves.
In notes they left behind, the girls said they were so troubled that they could not concentrate on studies and were scared they would not be able to perform and make it to the United States.
Police said the two girls laced mango drinks with what appeared to be toxic chemicals and downed them in one go while they were at the institute. Suspecting food poisoning, the institute staff rushed them to PGI Rohtak, only to be told that they should alert the parents and police since this appeared to be a case of suicide.
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The two girls died barely 10 minutes after their parents reached the hospital. “Madhu died in my arms,” her uncle Ombir said.
In their suicide notes — one runs into six pages, the other is four-page long — the girls speak of fear and shame, of disrepute, of tongues wagging simply because young men had been following and harassing them.
“Everyday a new man would come and chase us. They would pass lewd remarks and offer us phone numbers.
The people around us would stare as if we had done something wrong. You know how bad our colony is… how people will say we encouraged these men to follow us… even though we are innocent,” Madhu wrote.
She mentioned the name of one of her tormentors, even the registration number of his motorcycle.
“In her note, she mentioned one Lokesh. We traced him. He has been taken on remand for two days after his arrest. We will question him to get to his associates,” police said.
Nikita’s father Sukhbir Singh said he had gone looking for Lokesh once after his daughter complained to her mother. He said he couldn’t find Lokesh. He did not bring the matter to the notice of police.
In her note, Nikita said: “Maine kuchh galat nahin kiya hai jiski wajah se mere parivar ko sharminda hona pade. Mein mar rahi hoon kyunki mein yeh roz-roz ki tension nahin le sakti (I have not done anything wrong to bring shame to my family. I am ending my life because I cannot take this daily tension).” Urging police to crack down on men who harass women, she said more women will go their way if action is not taken.
She speaks of saving for a T-shirt to gift her younger sister. “I had planned to buy a T-shirt for Chhoti… for which I have saved Rs 200. I have kept that money in a bangle box in the first drawer.
Please buy her the T-shirt she likes. I know she will look very smart… I am also leaving my wrist watch for Bhai. Please ask him to wear it each time he goes for an exam or interview. It will bring him good luck… I am sorry I could not fulfill your dream of making it big in life and going to America. I have no option left except die. I love you,” she wrote to her family.
Madhu’s note is somewhat similar. She too speaks of the dread of bringing shame to the family, of not getting admission in a Gurgaon institute and of not being able to go to America.
“The boys used to stalk us, follow us till our homes. I do not want my family humiliated. My sister will now fulfill your dream of going to America and she will soon call all of you,” she wrote, asking her mother not to throw away her belongings, clothes, books, school bag, footwear. “I shall return in some form… we will meet if god wills.”