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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Despite Rajasthan HC protection, father kills teen who eloped with Dalit man

Advocates of the duo termed the murder as "gross negligence" of the police, despite the court ordering protection.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur |
Updated: March 5, 2021 8:01:16 am
Rajasthan honour killing, Dausa honour killing, Dausa SP, Rajasthan Police, Rajasthan high court, Father kills daughter, Indian expressPinki Saini, Roshan Mahawar approached HC in Feb. (Express Photo)

An 18-year-old woman who had received protection from the Rajasthan High Court so that she could live with a Dalit man, has been murdered allegedly by her father, state officials said on Thursday.

The father, Shankar Lal Saini, told police on Wednesday that he had killed his daughter, Pinki, at his home in Dausa town, district Superintendent of Police Anil Kumar said.

Police subsequently recovered the body, which bore marks of strangulation, the SP said.

“Pinki Saini had been married off to a man on February 16. On February 21, she ran away with Roshan Mahawar (24). On February 26, the couple appeared before the Rajasthan High Court, and the court ordered that they be provided protection by the local police, and taken to wherever they wanted to go,” SP Kumar told The Indian Express.

Police took Pinki and Roshan to Jaipur, where they wanted to go, Kumar said. “On March 1, the two of them came to Roshan’s house in Dausa. From there, the woman’s family members took her away forcibly that same day,” the SP said.

“We were searching for Pinki. Yesterday (Wednesday) night, her father reached the police station and said that he had murdered his daughter. When we went to his house, we found the woman’s body. Prima facie, it appears to be a case of strangulation,” Kumar said.

A case of murder has been registered against Shankar Lal Saini, the SP said. The possible involvement of other individuals in the crime is under investigation, he said.

Lawyers for Pinki and Roshan blamed the murder on “gross negligence” on part of the police, who were bound by the High Court’s order to protect the couple.

In his order of February 26, Justice Satish Kumar Sharma of Rajasthan High Court had said: “Both the petitioners are present in person in the Court and they want to live with each other. Therefore, without expressing any opinion on merits of the case, learned counsel for the respondents is directed to advise his clients not to take the law in their hands and not to cause any sort of harm to the petitioners.

“Further, learned Public Prosecutor is also directed to inform the local police authority to give protection to the petitioners and to take them at a safe place as per their wishes.” The court was scheduled to hear the matter again on March 9.

After Pinki was abducted on March 1, members of Roshan’s family registered an FIR against 11 people, including Pinki’s father, uncle, and other relatives, and “15-20” other people.

In the FIR — registered under IPC sections including those on abduction, criminal intimidation, and theft, and sections of The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act — Roshan’s family alleged that Shankar Lal Saini and the other accused abused them using casteist slurs, damaged their house, stole Rs 1.2 lakh, and forcibly took away Pinki.

“It is gross negligence of the police that despite the High Court’s order providing the couple protection, Pinki was abducted and murdered. The couple had told the court that they feared for their safety, and wanted to live with each other of their own free will,” said Nawal Singh Sikarwar, the advocate who represented Pinki and Roshan in court.

Roshan told The Indian Express that after Pinki’s murder, he now feared for his own life. The police had not taken his fears for their safety seriously, he said.

“I knew they might kill Pinki. I had told police this when Pinki’s family took her away. But they (police) said that after all, it was her parents who had taken Pinki away, and that they would bring her to court at the next hearing. I cried and pleaded with the police, but they did not take my concerns seriously,” Roshan said, his voice choking with emotion.

“How is it that she was ultimately found murdered in her house? If she was right here in Dausa, at her parents’ home, why could the police not find her for three days? Her family had often threatened to kill us both. They demanded to know how I, a Koli, could even dream of being with Pinki, who is from the [OBC] Mali caste. They threw casteist slurs at me,” Roshan said.

According to Roshan, some 40 men and women, most of whom were members of Pinki’s extended family, had come to his home to take Pinki away.

“We had come back to Dausa because we had run out of money,” said Roshan, who has a gym in the town and is studying for a degree at an Industrial Training Institute (ITI). “Right after we reached home, her family members attacked us and took her away,” he said.

Pinki was in her first year at college, Roshan said. Her family had forced her into marriage before they eloped, and had beaten her up, he said. “I now fear for my life. I have learnt that three of her relatives, Kalu, Mukesh and Ranglal, have given money to some people to kill me,” Roshan said.

Activists and civil society groups have demanded action against the police.

“It is shameful. It also exposes the commitment of the police and the Rajasthan government towards women’s security. Despite the High Court’s order to police to protect the couple, Pinki Saini was brutally murdered,” Kavita Srivastava, president of the Rajasthan unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), said.

“We demand the suspension of police officials including the Circle Officer, Dausa, the Dausa SP, and the SHO of the Kotwali police station. Roshan made several calls on the 100 [emergency] number after Pinki was abducted, but they wasted precious time by telling him to call the Kotwali police station,” Srivastava said.

Circle Officer Deepak Kumar said the Dausa police were not aware of the High Court’s order.

“We didn’t know that the court had provided them protection. It was only after the woman was abducted that we came to know. We did not receive any intimation through official channels about the High Court order,” Deepak Kumar said.

Dausa SP Anil Kumar denied the allegations of police inaction levelled by Roshan.

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