AN 18-YEAR-OLD woman suffered around 70 per cent burns Saturday after she reportedly set herself on fire minutes after a panchayat was held over her alleged relationship with her 25-year-old relative in Fatehpur district. Sources said the panchayat directed the two to end their relationship and also that the man should stay away from the village until she got married.
However, the woman’s brother got an FIR registered alleging that the relative raped his sister on Friday and set her on fire the next day.
District Magistrate of Fatehpur, Sanjeev Singh, who along with the SP, ADG and DIG of Allahabad zone and range, respectively, visited the village, said the girl set herself afire even as the panchayat, at which the relative, his and her parents and other villagers were present, gave its decision.
The woman was admitted to a hospital in Kanpur where her condition was serious, sources said. The relative is absconding. He has been booked under IPC sections 376 (rape) and 307 (attempt to murder).
“Primary investigation has found that the woman and the accused were in a relationship for the past two years, over which a panchayat was held Saturday. The two were directed to stay away from each other. Upset over this, the girl set herself on fire. Police are looking into all aspects,” said DM Sanjeev Singh.
He added, “At the panchayat, it was decided that the relative should leave the village until the woman gets married. People had not even dispersed when, around 10 am, the girl went to her residence. Those present at the panchayat suddenly spotted smoke billowing out of the girl’s house. They rushed to the house to find the girl enveloped in flames. She was taken to a local community health centre,” added the DM.
Additional Director General (ADG), Prayagraj zone, Sujeet Pandey, said, “The panchayat was about to end or had just ended when the woman left. When people saw smoke coming out from her house, her mother and some women rushed to find her in flames. The fire was doused. We have been told that when the fire started, the accused and his parents were present in the panchayat. We will look into it.”
According to a statement issued by police, the girl’s brother earlier gave a complaint that the relative raped her and his sister set herself on fire. But, after investigation started, he gave another complaint alleging that the relative also set her on fire.
“In the panchayat, the accused was ready to marry the girl but both the families denied as the the two were relatives. Both were made to swear that they will not meet again,” read the police statement.
DIG, Prayagraj range, Kavindra Paratap Singh, claimed that as primary investigation has suggested the youth was innocent and he would be arrested only after proper investigation.