A 25-year-old woman, who was set ablaze last evening in full public view allegedly by her former colleague in Secunderabad, succumbed to burn injuries early Friday. The victim has been identified as Sandhya Rani. The accused, Karthik, was arrested late last night.
Karthik allegedly threw petrol on Sandhya while she was walking home from work in Lalaguda area and set her on fire. Police said the duo had known each other for over two years when Karthik also worked in the same aluminium fabrication unit where Sandhya worked as a accountant-cum-receptionist. However, Karthik was dismissed from the job recently due to inefficiency and was presently unemployed. He had professed love for Sandhya and kept pestering her to marry him, police added.
“Upset with his constant calls, Sandhya recently blocked his number and stopped talking to him. This infuriated Karthik who earlier threatened her of dire consequences. She informed some senior colleagues including the unit owner D Jagan Reddy who spoke with Karthik and warned him not to harass and stalk her. On Thursday, Karthik again tried to talk to her when she came out of office in the evening. When she declined, he immediately took out a bottle of petrol and threw on her and set on fire. She suffered 64 per cent burns. She was rescued and shifted to hospital,’’ Deputy Commissioner B Sumathi said.
“She died today at 7:20 am. We had taken a dying declaration late last night in which she informed us about Karthik and how he was stalking her after she refused to marry him. Karthik had planned all this before hand. He parked his motorcycle near a hotel hoping to get away but he was arrested when he came to collect the bike,’’ she added.
The police further said that although Sandhya was friendly with Karthik, she declined all his proposals. “She studied up to degree first year and was a talented accountant while Karthik dropped out of school. She refused his advances and informed the unit’s owner several times. Karthik said that they were both lovers and that he had given her several gifts. We found that Karthik had given her a phone which she gave it to her employer Jagan Reddy and asked him to give it back. She did this after Karthik started harassing and threatening her,’’ DCP Swathi said.
Recreating the crime scene based on CCTV footage, cops found that Karthik waited outside her office till she came out at 6:15 pm on Thursday. “Both are seen walking together and talking. Based on Karthik’s body language and hand gestures, it appears they were arguing, and Sandhya started walking faster as if trying to shake him off. It was a pre-planned murder. Karthik had parked his bike in the parking lot of a nearby hotel. He had purchased petrol in a water bottle from a nearby petrol pump and hit it inside his shirt. After setting Sandhya on fire, he hid nearby and waited for police to go away from the scene. Late in the night he came to collect his bike and he was arrested,’’ an official said.
D Savitri, mother of Sandhya said that she never confided to her about Karthik and his threats and harassment. “If we had known, we would have taken precautions and informed police also. She didn’t say anything to us,’’ Savitri said.
A case has been registered against Karthik at Lalaguda Police Station under Sections of IPC 302, 354, 354 D, and SC/ST Atrocities Act as Sandhya belonged to the Mala community.