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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

‘Thought marriage would lend us status… was biggest mistake’

Geetanjali Garg’s family says the woman who excelled at everything couldn’t have killed herself

Written by Dipankar Ghose | Published: August 6, 2013 2:36:15 am

From all acounts of her,by her family and acquaintances,Geetanjali Garg wasn’t the kind who would have committed suicide. The 28-year-old excelled in whatever she put her mind to,loved her daughters and was devoted to her family. With the CBI set to take over the probe into the mysterious July 17 death of the wife of Gurgaon’s Chief Judicial Magistrate Ravneet Garg,and with her in-laws under suspicion,her parents and brother hold onto this in what they call their fight for justice.

Father O P Agarwal,an industrialist,recalls that Geetanjali was always the precocious one in their family,good at studies,a much-loved student and a keen debater. “She did her schooling at Army School in Ambala and never ranked lower than second. She studied B.Com (Hons) at S A Jain College in Ambala,followed by an MBA from Kurukshetra University. Again,she was among the best in her class,” said Agarwal,sitting next to a large framed photograph of Geetanjali at their Chandigarh home.

A professor at Jain College said Geetanjali was one of the “smartest,most principled and fiery girls” he had ever met. He added that teachers had asked her to stand for the student union secretary’s post but that she had turned it down,refusing to be “drawn into politics”.

What she agreed to,and the family says without any complaints,was an arranged marriage with Ravneet in November 2007,when she was just 22. The alliance was a break from tradition for the Agarwals,who own a steel company and run the Excel Group of Institutions in Ambala. “All my other four sisters are married to industrialists. In our family,we have only had arranged marriages. When a family friend spoke to us about Ravneet,the rest of the family was against it,but I convinced them. I told them there was an added status to being married to a judge,” said brother Pradeep. “It was the biggest mistake of my life.” While Geetanjali never complained,the Agarwals say they could sense that she nursed a regret about not having pursued a career,though she pushed it away thinking about her daughters,Aasma (4) and Aadiga (3),and how they may have been neglected. Marriage would completely change Geetanjali’s life. At the time of their wedding,Ravneet was under training in Kurukshetra. Postings to Panipat,Yamuna Nagar and Gurgaon followed. From an industrialist background,she had to re-adjust to living on a fixed government salary.

A friend of hers who didn’t want to be quoted said these things didn’t bother Geetanjali. “She told us that despite the changes,she was happy. She had her daughters,and there seemed to be no issues with the marriage. Even as a child,she wasn’t very interested in material objects.”

While Ravneet has now been booked for dowry,the Gargs have also been accused of favouring a boy child. Pradeep said trouble started when Geetanjali gave birth to two girls. “When Aasma was born,her husband’s side didn’t seem very happy. Then Aadiga was born,and the murmurs grew louder. They said the girls would be a burden. ”

Since Geetanjali was found dead in a park in the high-profile Police Lines area of Gurgaon,said close friend Parul Gupta,the Agarwals haven’t been allowed to meet Aasma and Aadiga.

Ravneet’s licensed weapon was found at the crime scene. The CJM and his family were subsequently booked for dowry death.

Shocked at the initial police response,Pradeep said: “It seemed they had made their mind up about the suicide theory. We suggested to them that Geetanjali could not have committed suicide,she would have fought. Moreover,her body with the multiple gunshots belies the suicide theory. Ravneet should have been questioned.”

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