They had run away and now both are dead. They died for their families banished from the community as punishment for their marriage.
On Sunday,Sunil Kumar (24) trekked to Hatia Pathar forest 6 km from his house in Harli village in Hazaribagh and his wife Renju Devi (22) followed him. Together,they consumed insecticide.
Renju died at Hazaribagh Sadar Hospital,35 km from the village. Sunil,referred to Ranchis Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences,died on the way.
However,before Sunil died,he made a declaration to a policeman that Churaman,Karthik,Kedar and Chaman,all with the surname of Mahato,were responsible.
Churaman and Karthik,who are absconding,are leaders of a 300-family community called the Sati Parivar in Harli in Barkagaon block. The two belong to the Koyri community of Kushwaha. Renju and Sunil were part of the Parivar. They were not related. They were from the same gotra. Soon after the couples April 2009 love marriage,the Parivar decided to banish both families.
They insisted that none from the Parivar should come to my motorcycle repair shop. Water to our fields was cut off. We were prohibited from using other fields in order to walk to ours, said Saheshwar Kumar,Sunils elder brother. The ban on the shop and water gradually eased. But the community members continued to maintain the strike.
Those from the Parivar were usually the first to reach our house for any ritual. They banned even relatives. When my father died two months back,Renju was not allowed into the house… said Ram Dayal Mahato,Renjus elder brother.
Sunil remained unaffected. He stayed in Hazaribagh for his BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications); his wife stayed with us. His brother put everything he earned from his motorcycle shop into his studies, said Sunils father Bhado Mahato.
None of my family members attended my sisters funeral two years back, said the father. They restrained my brother from his father-in-laws last rites, said Saheshwar.
Eleven days ago,Bhado Mahatos mother passed away. Someone would come each day,telling Sunil we would be accepted if he left. They banned us from ceremonies in her memory; they made sure he was shamed, said the father.
Both families are wary of indicting the community. There were gram sabhas to broker peace,but they reached nowhere. We want to ensure those named by Sunil are punished.., said Saheshwar.
Kamla Devi said,We are not allowed into the Parivars temple anymore. No one even remembers why we have these rules; we are four separate families (gotras),after all.
Kamlas daughter Baby Kumari (21) had eloped with neighbour Kamlesh Mahato (22) in 2010.
What option did we have? Also,we were friendly with Kamleshs family. We didnt mind him as son-in-law, said Kamla.
The Parivar,however,banished both families.