All that 25-year-old Preeti Rathi wanted was independence and a chance to fulfil her dreams. With hardwork and dedication,she had managed to secure a seat at the Army Medical Corps in Mumbai as Lieutenant.
This was her first journey outside Delhi,to the big city of Mumbai. A journey that was cut short on May 2 when an unidentified man threw acid at her at the at the Bandra Terminus when she was getting off the train.
She succumbed to burn injuries at the Bombay Hospital on Saturday after a a month-long battle to survive.
Preetis body was flown back to Delhi from Mumbai on Monday and cremated in Narela with full police honours.
The family earlier protested in Narela,demanding that her body be cremated with full state honours,the case be transferred to the CBI and a member of the family get a job with the Army. The family ended the four-hour protest only after the SDM gave them an assurance in writing that their demands had been forwarded to authorities concerned.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday said he had already asked CBI to take over the case. The home minister has already announced it. CBI has been asked to take over the case.
In Delhi,Preetis younger brother Hitesh lit the pyre and her sister Tanu stood with a photograph of her elder sister in hand.
She was my inspiration. She told me that we should study and prove to the rest of the family that girls could make it. She told me that she would be the strength for our parents…. I remember the day she left on May 1. She said Abhi toh mein train se jaa rahi hoon. Cheh mahine mein plane se wapis aaongi (I am going by train. But within six months,Ill return in a plane. She didnt deserve this, Tanu said.
Preeti studied at National Public School,was a good student and dancer. She went on to do her BSc in nursing from Batra Hospital and finally applied for the Military Nursing Service. Preeti was among the 200 selected among the 15,000 candidates who applied from across the country.
She was to join the Colaba Naval Hospital on May 15.
Her aunt Sunita Singh,uncle Vinod Kumar Singh and father Amarsingh Rathi went to drop her to Mumbai.
Amarsingh,a foreman at Delhi government-run electricity plant Bhakra Beas Management Board,said: I was with her. She and I got off together and suddenly someone tugged at her purse. As a reflex,she turned and the next thing we knew was someone had thrown a bottle of acid on her face and disappeared. She was bleeding. All we could think of was getting her to the hospital. I couldnt see the assailant.
Preeti was first admitted to the Masina Hospital in Byculla and shifted to Bombay Hospital 16 days later. She sustained acid burns on her face,chest and arms and had extensive internal burns. Doctors at the hospital said ingestion of acid made a 2 cm hole in the left branch of her wind pipe joining it to her food pipe. This harmed her lungs.
The Mumbai police arrested one Pawan Kumar Gehlon,a BTech graduate who lives two blocks away from Preetis house. Police said he resembles the man who is seen in the CCTV footage obtained from Bandra Terminus. According to police,Pawan also called Tanu a few days after the attack to check on Preetis health.
Mother Roshnis grief at times turned to anger as she sat with the protesters. Why havent they caught the right man? They say its Pawan. Police have no proof that its him. The CBI must probe and I want the killer to be caught. I will kill that man. I will make him suffer the way my daughter suffered, she said.