The arrest of an 84-year-old woman,Noorjahan,who could barely walk without support by the Alirajpur police in Madhya Pradesh on charges of arson has created uproar in the region. The ire led the police to release her from Jhabua Jail on bail a couple of days ago. The police then claimed that they were tricked into arresting her.
Noorjahan and eight others were accused of setting fire to the house of a Scheduled Caste boy,Rahul,with whom her 17-year-old granddaughter had eloped. Rahul is a resident of Budaghati Falia of Chandrashekhar Azad Nagar and the incident happened on February 5. After the incident,the police had registered a case under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The police at first claimed that no arrests could be made because the accused had fled to neighbouring Gujarat. But after a few days,the police traced the boy and the minor girl to Jamnagar. They handed over the girl to her family and sent the boy to jail. The police claimed Noorjahan last week turned herself up and said she had torched the boys house. She was arrested and jailed.
Alirajpur SP Akhilesh Jha said the woman had owned up the crime in front of more than 100 people. The SP quoted her as saying: I torched the house because I could not bear the humiliation brought by a lower caste boy eloping with my granddaughter.
He said,Instead of appreciating our efforts in promptly tracing and bringing back the girl,the family is now accusing us of framing Noorjahan. But the family members alleged that the police booked nine members,including Noorjahan,on a false charge. They claimed the incident happened nearly half a kilometre away from their house,a distance impossible for Noorjahan to cover on her own.
DSP S L Kharadi has now been served a notice to explain in what circumstances he arrested the woman. Kharadi said she was arrested her when she visited the police station.
Rahuls father is an assistant sub-inspector in the district. SP Jha said the police would soon arrest the remaining accused.