She was harassed for dowry for two years. She was kidnapped, allegedly by goons hired by her husband and in-laws, gangraped for 11 days and then strangled and thrown into a ditch at Punpun near Patna. She was cremated by police, her body unclaimed till then. The postmortem had shown clear signs of gangrape. She was eventualy identified from photographs of her body.
All this happened in September 2011. Since then, the woman’s father, junior commanding officer Subedar Akhileshar Kumar Singh, now posted at Danapur Cantonment, has been fighting for justice. His daughter, 26, was married to an Army lance naik, Saket Kumar, now declared a deserter.
The Gaya police have chargesheeted nine people including Saket Kumar for rape, murder and dowry harassment, but not been able to arrest any of them yet. Three people have sought anticipatory bail and the rest are listed as “absconding” in the police diary.
Singh’s family alleges police are too scared to travel to the Naxal-dominated villages of the accused. His wife Urmila Devi, stricken ill by the loss of their daughter and bedridden since, alleges a local politician had put pressure on police “not to arrest anyone”.
When the Army officer met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at his janta darbar on Monday, senior police officers present there “knew his case very well”. He was sent home with assurances about how serious the police were about his daughter’s case.
It was the second time Singh had met the chief minister. Singh says he and his son Nitesh Singh, 18, have met the Bihar police chief more than 10 times, the Gaya range deputy inspector-general seven times, the Gaya SP 20 times and case’s investigating officer at least 50 times. The family has also written to the Bihar governor, the Union home minister, the Prime Minister and the President.
Nitesh, who is in Class XII, keeps every relevant document in hand when he describes the follow-up to his sister’s death. He says he sees a ray of hope after the nationwide show of support to the victim of the Delhi gangrape.
“My sister suffered no less torture, that too at hands of her husband, in-laws and their friends,” he says. “The filing of a chargesheet and the symbolic confiscation of the property of some of the accused mean nothing to us. How can police justify not arresting anyone since September 2011?”
Nitesh’s sister married Saket in 2005 and they