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“Just a few nights ago, I had told her to come back home, to leave her husband. I had repeatedly told her to come to us, her brother, her father. I wish she had,” said 31-year-old Vineet Kumar Varshney, as he fought back tears.
Vineet spoke to The Quint on Wednesday, 28 September, a day after he performed the last rites of his 27-year-old sister, Arti Gupta, who had died by suicide on Sunday at her home in Delhi’s Govindpuri.
Her husband Anupam Gupta, an architect at a firm in Hauz Khas, was arrested by the Delhi police under sections pertaining to harassment over dowry and cruelty. A purported video found in Arti’s phone by the Delhi police details the torture she underwent, allegedly at the hands of her husband.
In a 32-second video, accessed by The Quint, Arti alleged, “My life is finished. This man has left me alone at home. These people are beating me up badly over dowry. Anupam has ruined my life, he is responsible for this. I am dying because of him. He beat me up a lot…”
The police claims this was recorded the day of Arti's death.
A day before she died by suicide, Arti had gone to the police station around 10-11 pm. DCP (South) Esha Pandey said that Arti told the assigned lady constable that her husband had left home and had blocked her number.
DCP Pandey said that a call was made to her husband who said that he “willingly left home and didn’t want to stay with his wife anymore.” The DCP said that Arti “refused to file a complaint and was dropped home by the lady constable.”
The next day at 2 pm, a PCR call was received regarding Arti’s dead body being found in her room.
Her brother told The Quint, “If the police had intervened properly that night, taken her seriously, and if they had not let her return home, my sister would have been alive today.”
'The Last Few Months Changed Her,' Says Family
Married eight months ago, Arti was a bubbly young woman from Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh, who loved to dance and eat out. Her family claims that almost two weeks after she got married in January, however, things changed.
In the last seven months, they watched her turn into a quiet, lonely, and unhappy woman who tried to hide her scars.
This is her story.
One of three siblings, Arti moved to Delhi from Aligarh after her wedding in January this year.
Her brother told The Quint, “It was an arranged marriage, and Anupam’s family is quite well-off. We spent around Rs 15 lakh on the wedding but even after that they demanded Rs 10 lakh and a car worth Rs five lakh.”
Arti’s father runs a small dairy business in Aligarh, while her brother works at a private company. Vineet, the brother, said, “We were still repaying loans we had accumulated due to the wedding. Arti tried explaining that to her husband but he didn’t get it.”
Arti was a graduate and was interested in dance and yoga as professions but it came to a standstill when she moved to Delhi, said Vineet. “She did join a yoga studio but her husband accused her of having an affair, so she left that. She had also become weak, as her hemoglobin had dropped,” he added.
Arti's sister Dolly and brother Vineet claim that while they saw behavioural changes in their sister within two weeks of her wedding, eventhough they did not know about the alleged violence being inflicted on her till last month.
"Whenever she visited, she would stay quiet and not be her usual self. I once saw bruises on her face and when I asked her about it, she told me she had fallen somewhere. I knew something was wrong but whenever I asked her about it, she would say that she is fine."Vineet Varshney, Arti's brother
Dolly told The Quint that at first, Arti didn’t tell anyone. Then, she told their mother, who passed away in August due to a cardiac arrest.
Fighting back tears, Vineet said, “A few days before my mother passed away, she told us that Arti had removed her clothes and shown her all the bruises. She had confided in our mother that Anupam used to beat her sometimes with bare hands, sometimes with a belt. And sometimes, he would try to suffocate her with a pillow.”
The siblings claim that the violence got worse in the last few days. Vineet said, “She told me that he was torturing her and beating her up over dowry. I asked her to come back to Aligarh but she never ended up coming...”
'She Confided in Family, Was Hesitant to File Complaint'
Jovial, understanding, empathetic, and full of life – this is how Arti’s siblings remember her. “But in the last few months, she became irritable. She would cry easily. She called me on Sunday, the day she took this step… She video called me and asked me to put my eight-month-old daughter in front of the phone. She spoke to her, she loved her dearly. Maybe this was her last wish,” said Dolly, as she wept.
Around two weeks ago, Arti also confided in her maternal uncle, Yogesh Varshney, who is a tour guide in Agra, about the alleged violence. He told The Quint, “Her father spoke to Anupam’s family and requested them to let go of the dowry demand but it made no difference.”
Her brother claimed that he repeatedly asked Arti to return home but to no avail. “She tried to save face, I think. But our mother’s death really shook her up. She started believing that our mother died out of stress after she confided in her about the harassment. Arti started carrying that guilt,” said Vineet.
Vineet said that Arti had previously too spoken about reaching out to the police but didn’t as “she worried that it will make matters worse.”
The police has filed a First Information Report (FIR) under sections 304B (dowry death), 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty), and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Arti’s husband.
A day after he performed her last rites, Vineet recalled better days that Arti had seen before her marriage. “She was always joking around. We would look forward to going to the Centre Point in Aligarh to eat and shop. Anyone who met her would be amazed. She was always so full of life.”