It could not have been an easy decision for Jyoti Mariyam Hora,10,to leave Khunti and head for Delhi. Though her best friend,Jayamani Guria,accompanied Jyoti,leaving behind her five siblings and alcoholic father should have wieghed heavily on her mind. Her mother had died when she was a toddler.
They boarded the Swarna Jayanti Express to Delhi on April 11 along with Jayamanis neighbour,Chandmani,who works as a domestic help in Delhi.
Jyoti died on April 19 at the Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital in Delhi. Two days later Jayamani,13,collapsed and died at the Ranchi railway station on her way back home. She was accompanied by Chandmanis daughter,Eden,who too works as domestic help. Both Chandmani and her brother,Sukhram,have been arrested and charged with abduction and trafficking.
Back home,at the school in Pitay Toli,Torpa,the headmaster in-charge,Devanand Ram,is racked with guilt. Having seen both Jyoti and Jayamani become thick friends,he believes he should have seen it coming. Both had become friends over the past month. I was surprised that Jyoti had a close bond with someone senior to her by a year, he said.
As a testimony to their friendship,Jyotis elder brother,Jyotish Hora,a student in the same school,says Jayamani used to walk 6 km from her house in Gutuhatu to their place in Kamra. Jyoti also used to stay over at her place. Jayamani never talked to any of us in the house, Jyotish recalled.
Both of them were regular to school. But on April 5,the school found that both the girls were absent for the first time since the present academic session began. Jyotis family was clueless about her whereabouts. However,Sevani Hembrom,a teacher from Gutuhatu,said,It was all over the village that the two girls had gone to Delhi.
Jyotis classmate,Riman Guria,said Jyoti was excited about going to Delhi. She told this to me at the beginning of the academic year, she said. According to Anita Guria,Sukhrams daughter,Jayamanis mother,Jeyabah Guria,had asked her aunt to take her daughter to Delhi for a job. At first,my aunt was reluctant. Jayamani asked Jyoti to come along, said Anita. She said her aunt has been working in Delhi for almost three years.
For Jyoti,the offer was an escape from her dreary existence. Headmaster Devanand said one of Jyotis sisters is mentally unstable and cannot attend school. A policeman said,When we came to know of her death in Delhi,we gave her father Rs 200 as travel assistance. He spent the money drinking.
Though Jayamanis mother denied that she told her daughter to go to Delhi,police sources said the parents were reluctant to file a complaint. A police officer said they recovered her body just before they put the first dirt on her during the burial.
Once they reached Delhi,Jyoti lived with Eden in the house where she was working. My aunt tried to find them jobs but failed. Then one day she called to say that Jyoti was ill and the doctors had diagnosed jaundice, said Anita.
Chandmani panicked when Jyoti died and she asked Eden to return with Jayamani. I went along with her mother and my father to the Ranchi railway station. She looked fine on arrival. But she became ill even before we left city limits and died before we could get her to a hospital, claimed Anita.
Khunti police have entrusted a panel of doctors with Jayamanis autopsy,which while ruling out rape,did not pinpoint the cause of death. The police will now send her viscera to the forensic science laboratory.