Waiting outside the Delhi High Court for his case hearing to conclude,Lalit Vats (23) knew he had already lost his cause to be there. The woman,for whose safety he had moved the court,had been declared dead. The hearing was only a formal confirmation of her death by police.
For Lalit,the idea that his wife was a victim of honour killing still seems unimaginable. He says had police believed his version and acted on time,his wife Deepti might be alive today.
Deepti,a 26-year-old primary schoolteacher,was allegedly killed by her mother,brother and uncle for honour since she had married out-of-caste and against their wishes.
Lalit approached police in April,to lodge a missing complaint with regard to his wife. But police uploaded her details on Zipnet an online service meant to help track missing persons only a month later.
Later,Lalit was forced to file a habeas corpus petition in the court,prompting police to question Deeptis family again.
It was during the second round of questioning that Deeptis family allegedly confessed to killing her.
On Wednesday,police told a bench headed by Justice Sanjeev Khanna that Deepti was killed before Lalit had approached the court. After gathering details from her mother Veermati and brother Mohit,a decomposed body had been recovered from a place near Haridwar. Forensic tests to identify the body were being carried out,police said.
Lalits counsel A B Kaushik pointed out that police must be hauled up for contributory negligence,and if they had uploaded Deeptis details on Zipnet in April,there might have been a chance of her rescue.
We cannot understand why there was so much delay in uploading the details. Was not husbands complaint enough? The argument that her parents did not come forward to lodge a missing complaint is completely misplaced. In this case,parents are alleged to be the culprits. Your actions are very unsatisfactory, said Justice Khanna.
Justice Khanna also ordered a change in the investigating officer of the case and directed the DCP concerned to monitor the investigation and ensure there was no threat to Lalits life.
The Commissioner should also examine the question of steps to be taken by the police when allegations are made by a husband and wife that they are under threat because of their inter-caste marriage, ordered the court.
Talking to Newsline after the order,Lalit said: I hope the courts directives shake the police out of its stupor and spur them into protecting vulnerable couples,who have to keep hiding in fear for their lives only because they decided to marry someone of their choice.
(Ankit Jain is on internship with The Indian Express)