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A teenager in Jharkhand's Dumka district, who was allegedly set on fire by a man whose overtures she did not reciprocate to, succumbed to her burns in the early hours on Sunday, 28 August, police said. Both the accused in the case have been arrested.
The police said that the victim had suffered 95 percent burns.
"The woman succumbed to burn injuries during treatment at RIMS, Ranchi, around 2:30 am on Sunday. Her body will be brought to Dumka after the post-mortem examination," the Dumka town police station in charge, Nitish Kumar, told news agency PTI.
While the second accused in the case, was arrested on Monday, the main accused was arrested last week. The second accused was produced in the court and subsequently sent to jail, as per Dumka SP Amber Lakra.
On Monday, the mortal remains of the victim were taken to the cremation ground for her last rites, amid tight security. A large crowd gathered for the funeral procession. Dumka MP Sunil Soren also attended the funeral procession.
Section 144 Imposed, Rs 1 Lakh Compensation Given to the Victim's Kin
Chief Minister Hemant Soren, while condemning the incident, announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the victim's family. A cheque of the same amount was handed to the family by the district collector.
Soren added that he has ordered a fact track investigation in the case, and has directed the Director General of Police to submit a progress report soon.
Dumka Sub-Divisional Officer Maheshwar Mahto said that Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been invoked in the town area.
The teenager's death triggered protests by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal in Dumka town, following which prohibitory orders were placed.
Meanwhile, Governor Ramesh Bais took cognisance of the case and summoned the chief secretary and the DGP to the Raj Bhavan regarding this matter.
What Had Happened?
The class 12 girl, who was admitted to Phulo Jhano Medical College and Hospital in Dumka in critical condition with 90 percent burns. Later, she was referred to Ranchi's Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) for better treatment, the police added.
One of the accused, who was arrested last week, had thrown inflammable liquid into the room and lit up the curtains, the police said. They added that the accused also threw the liquid inside the room so that she could not escape and was trapped inside. Her family and friends rescued her.
The victim had said that the accused called her on her cell phone around 10 days ago, pestering her to become his friend.
The accused again called the victim on her phone on 22 August and threatened to kill her if she did not talk to him. She then informed her father about the threat after which he assured her that he would talk to the man's family on Tuesday, 23 August.
After the family had their dinner, they went to sleep. The victim was sleeping in another room.
"On Tuesday morning, I experienced a sensation of pain on my back and could smell something burning. I found him running away when I opened my eyes. I started screaming in pain and went to my father's room. My parents doused the fire and took me to the hospital," the victim had earlier told the police.
'Heart-Wrenching': CM Hemant Soren
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren, while extending his condolences, called the incident "heart-wrenching."
"A lot of evil acts are being seen in society. This incident is heart-wrenching and the law is taking its course. The accused has been arrested. It is our effort to see that he is punished at the earliest," the CM was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
"Such people should not be forgiven, they should be given the strictest of punishments. Laws should be brought in to further strengthen the existing laws for such incidents," he added.
Further, Union Minister Arjun Munda targeted the state government, asking them to issue a statement in view of the incident. "Who's responsible for such incidents? Were appropriate measures taken to save the victim? How will the accused be punished? The state government should respond. To maintain people's trust they should issue a statement," Munda said, as quoted by news agency ANI.
'Women Unsafe in Jharkhand,' Says BJP; JMM Hits Back
Reacting to the news, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that women are "not safe" in Jharkhand and added that Chief Minister Hemant Soren is silent over the incident.
"Dumka's heinous incident proves that women are not safe under the Hemant Soren government in Jharkhand. In the past 32 months, more than 5,000 cases of rape registered in the state," Jharkhand BJP president Deepak Prakash alleged on Sunday, news agency PTI reported.
Former CMs and saffron party leaders Raghubar Das and Babulal Marandi also demanded that the person involved in the heinous crime be punished through trial in a fast-track court.
"The way a rogue entered her house and set the girl on fire, our society and Jharkhand are ashamed of it. In the Hemant Soren government, over 1,000 incidents (of violence) against women in the state took place. I demand this government to set up an SIT. No one is safe in the state," former Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das said.
BJP leader Kapil Mishra will go to Dumka along with Nishikant Dubey and other party leaders to visit the aggrieved family.
Meanwhile, Congress MLA Deepika Pandey said that the crime is highly condemnable and not allowed by any religion. "Accused is a criminal, and barbarians like him are harmful to society. Strict action against them will be the real justice (for the victim)," she added.
Meanwhile, the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) accused BJP leaders of trying to play "communal politics" over the heinous incident.
Party spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya stated, "Dumka incident was condemnable. The BJP should refrain from doing communal politics over it. The government also wants punishment through trial in the fast track court."
"A girl was burnt to death in Dumka, Jharkhand. The accused was molesting the victim for a long time. A few days ago, a girl was shot in Delhi. Such incidents have been many in the country, there is a need for strict laws against stalking crime," DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)