Khudaganj (bareilly): As the Badaun gangrape story takes a new turn, less than 50 km away, a girl’s death is caught up in another tale of intrigue, conspiracy and rumours. At the centre of it are a house guarded by 15 PAC personnel in a remote village in Bareilly’s Khudaganj district, and the horrific end met by a pregnant 15-year-old inside.
As theories of an affair, rape, molestation and panchayat politics do the rounds, little else is known for sure.
On November 16 afternoon, villagers had heard the screams of the girl and rushed to the house to find smoke billowing from inside. By the time the doors, reportedly found locked from inside, were broken down, the girl was badly charred.
According to the villagers, a man whom they knew as an acquaintance of the girl’s family had taken her to the Shahjahanpur district hospital. She was shifted from there to a private hospital and later to the Bareilly District Hospital.
The police reportedly did not come to know of the incident till 2 am the next morning, when the victim’s father walked into the Khudaganj police station and filed a complaint that his daughter had been set ablaze by six village youth while trying to resist a molestation bid.
Before the police could reach, the hospitalised girl’s statement had been recorded before the nayab tehsildar. Khudaganj Station House Officer Iftukar Ahmed admits that was unusual. “We are investigating how this happened, considering it usually takes a long process for the nayab tehsildar to get involved in an incident that is not in his area.”
In another statement she recorded before the police as well as the sub-divisional magistrate, the girl said she was alone at home when, around 1:30 pm, six youths of the village had barged in and tried to molest her. “She claimed when she resisted, two of the men had poured kerosene and set her ablaze. She also mentioned that the men had been following her for a few days and had also accosted her near the sugarcane fields in front of her house and threatened to kill her if she informed anyone,” Ahmed said.
The same day, four of the boys named by her were arrested from their houses, including Rakesh (21), Surjit (19) and two minors. Cousins Jitendra and Bijendra, who work at a call centre in Gurgaon, are absconding. While Rakesh is doing his B.Sc. at Khusro Memorial Degree College in Bareilly, Surjit is doing BA from a private university. The two minors, one of whom is the son of the village pradhan, study in a government school.
On November 23, the girl succumbed to her burns. The SHO said they were looking at the continued…