In Amethi district, there is heavy police deployment in the hometown of the woman and her daughter who attempted to immolate themselves in front of the Chief Minister’s Office on Saturday.
People in the village are apprehensive, but the few who talk say that the woman has been having regular arguments with a neighbour, with whom she had a scuffle on May 9. “They fought often and then on May 9, it became bad,” said another neighbour. He said the woman and the other neighbour had frequent arguments over a drain outside her house. “He had objected to her drain being open and because it was running along the wall of his house. He asked her to get it fixed properly with concrete or to make it run in the middle of the two houses,” he says, pointing to the drain outside her locked house.
Local residents say the dispute started because the neighbour complained of seepage in the wall of his house due to the open drain.
“On May 9, the neighbour was allegedly attacked by her cousin with an axe. After that, they went to the police station. We saw her also leave her house with her kurta torn,” says a woman who lives in the neighbourhood, but did not wish to be identified. The neighbour’s house was also locked on Saturday.
Most locals are apprehensive talking about the family and say that they stayed away from them. “She used to argue with several neighbours. It was her cousin who brought this on her family. Plus, she was misguided by some local leaders,” says a woman. “The family has not been home for at least 10 days.”
Her aunt, too, lives in the same village but she claims having no ties with the family now owing to “differences for years.”
The outgoing SHO of the local police station, suspended on Saturday morning over laxity in the case, said: “The two sides had come to the police station on the night of May 9. We had lodged cases from both sides.”
The first case, in which the woman is the complainant, is registered under sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman to outrage her modesty).
Asked why they did not arrest the neighbour before Friday, the outgoing SHO claimed, “For the arrest, we needed to record her statement under Crpc section 164, but she was not at home and her house was locked and when we were calling her, she was not agreeing to give a statement. We had been trying to get her statement since the lockdown norms were relaxed.” The SHO claimed that she wanted the case against her and her cousin dropped. “We could not have done that.”