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Jharkhand: Protests erupt as teen set ablaze by stalker dies

A girl who was set on fire by a person after she did not reciprocate his proposal in Jharkhand’s Dumka district succumbed to her burn injuries on Sunday.

The police said the accused has been arrested.

Another person, who allegedly had supplied petrol to the main accused, has also been arrested, Dumka Superintendent of Police Amber Lakra said.

On August 23, the main accused Shahrukh had poured petrol on the woman and set her ablaze for not reciprocating his overtures.

The second accused has been identified as Chotu Khan alias Naeem.

The victim, a student of class 12, was first admitted to Phulo Jhano Medical College and Hospital in Dumka in critical condition with 90 per cent burns.

Later, she was referred to Ranchi’s Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS), where she died on Sunday.

Soon after the incident came to light, people held protests in the streets of Dumka.

Dumka SP Lakda said, “We will apply at fast track court for a fast trial. People are cooperating with us. We appeal to people to maintain peace. The situation is under control and Section 144 has been imposed.”

The Jharkhand government on Monday handed over a compensation of Rs 9 lakh to the next of kin of the teenager, an official said.

Chief Minister Hemant Soren directed the Dumka district administration to extend an immediate relief of Rs 10 lakh to the bereaved family.

Dumka deputy commissioner (DC) Ravi Shankar Shukla said, “On the direction of the CM, the relief money has been provided to the family of the deceased. The family was given a cheque of Rs 9 lakh on Monday.”

An amount of Rs 1 lakh had already been provided to the family when the woman was being shifted from Dumka to RIMS, he said.

Governor Ramesh Bais announced an immediate grant of Rs 2 lakh to the family of the victim from his discretionary grant, an official release said.

Bais also directed the director general of police to probe the role of the local police in the incident and said the trial of the accused should be held in a fast track court, the release said.

The chief minister said the case will be taken up by a fast-track court for speedy disposal.

‘The Director General of Police has been directed to submit an early report on the progress of the investigation, which should be conducted by ADG rank officer,’ the CM said in a Twitter post.

Speaking to media persons at the state secretariat, Soren termed the Dumka incident as ‘heart-wrenching’.

“Our efforts will be to ensure stringent punishment for the culprit at the earliest. The provision of punishment for such cases should be made stricter,” the CM said.

Congress legislator and Health minister Banna Gupta said, “It is a very sensitive issue. There should not be politics over this. Speedy trial of the case will be ensured.”

The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha accused the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders of trying to do ‘communal politics’ over the incident and said the state government also wants stringent punishment for the culprit.

JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said, “Dumka incident is condemnable. The BJP should refrain from doing communal politics over it. The government also wants trial of the accused in a fast track court.”

Saffron party leaders, including former Jharkhand chief ministers Raghubar Das and Babulal Marandi, demanded that the accused be tried in a fast track court and a compensation of Rs 1 crore and a job should be extended to the next of kin of the woman.

The deceased was cremated amid tight security in Dumka on the banks of the Mayurakshi river on Monday, police said.

The Dumka deputy commissioner, superintendent of police Ambar Lakra and BJP Dumka MP Sunil Soren were present at the funeral.

In protest against the incident, Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal had given a call for a bandh in Dumka on Monday.

All shops, business establishments, schools, and colleges remained closed and the movement of long-distance buses was also affected.

Protests erupted against the incident with right-wing organisations staging demonstrations in Ranchi and Dumka.

In Ranchi, the activists gathered at Albert Ekka Chowk and raised slogans against the state government.

The protestors were seen holding placards seeking justice for the woman.

Heavy security has been deployed at all prominent places of Dumka town to avoid any untoward incident. The administration had clamped prohibitory order in Dumka sub-division on Sunday.

Jharkhand DGP has sent additional director general of police (headquarter) Murari Lal Meena and inspector general of Crime Investigation Department (CID) Asim Virant Minz to Dumka for review of the investigation, a police statement said.

The father of the victim has demanded capital punishment for the culprit.

Meanwhile, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Jharkhand’s Dumka district said the victim was a minor, and demanded action under the POCSO Act.

The committee said she was around 16 years old as per the class 10 board examination marksheet and not a major as claimed by the police.

“We recommend that sections of the POCSO Act be added to the FIR as the girl was a minor as per our probe,” Dumka CWC chairperson Amarendra Kumar said.

A four-member CWC team led by Kumar met the victim’s family on Monday and procured her marksheet.

“According to her marksheet, she was born on November 26, 2006. She was a minor. So, sections under the POCSO Act are applicable in this case,” he added.

Earlier, Dumka Police had claimed that the deceased had mentioned that she was 19 years old in the statement given before the magistrate.

The National Commission for Women on Monday said it has written to the Jharkhand Police chief, calling for a fair investigation into the incident.

— with inputs from PTI and ANI

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