A 10-year-old girl holds her elder sister’s photograph while she leads three people along a broken staircase to the terrace. Pointing to a spot on the floor, next to a bundle of scrap material, she says, “This is where we found my sister last night. Her body was burning. We rushed upstairs after we heard her crying.”
At about 2.30 am Monday, the girl’s 15-year-old sister had been set ablaze, allegedly after she was raped by a resident.
While police registered an FIR against unknown persons, the girl’s family alleges she was raped and set ablaze by their 20-year-old neighbour. The girl’s father says she was being harassed by the man for nearly a year.
Her mother refuses to eat or drink anything unless it is prepared by her. In a state of shock, she asks, “Has she come back? Will you make me speak to her over the phone? Please do not scold her or tell her how upset we are, she must be troubled herself.”
She says the family was planning to sell land at their village in Bihar so that their daughter could get a good education. “She wants to join the police or become a journalist. Her father has promised to fund her education. We will sell some land in our village. Do you think that will be enough for her education?” she asks.
Less than 500 m away from their house, another mother claims her son has wrongly been framed in the case. “He was sleeping when police entered our house at about 5 pm and took him for questioning,” she says.
His father says, “They have some rivalry with us. Even in the past, they have accused my son of harassing their daughter.”