New Delhi: His body was found in a sugarcane field just 100 metres away from her home on Saturday morning, hours after he went missing Friday night. Her body was then exhumed, a day after she was buried by her family members in alleged secrecy.
The 18-year-old Muslim woman, and the Dalit youth, 19 — both residents of Uttar Pradesh’s Basti district — allegedly kept their relationship under wraps. She died under mysterious circumstances, and his body has injury marks.
Her family may have been opposed to the alleged relationship, but their resistance was only suspected when his body was found, and his family claimed that he had been killed by the woman’s family.
The police Monday arrested three of the woman’s brothers on suspicion of involvement in an honour killing. They were booked on charges of murder and destruction of evidence and under sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, based on an FIR registered Saturday on a complaint filed by the man’s mother.
ThePrint is not naming the deceased and their family members to protect their identities.
Deependra Nath Chaudhary, additional superintendent of police, Basti, said: “The cause of the woman’s death is unclear, viscera samples have been preserved for analysis. The man was throttled to death. We suspect this is a case of honour killing. Further investigation is on.”
According to the district police, the matter came to light Saturday morning, when members of the Dalit man’s family found his body in a field near the Muslim woman’s house.
“We noticed injuries on his body. Based on suspicion, the woman’s body was exhumed,” Chaudhary said. The woman’s body was buried by her family Saturday.
According to the man’s family members, he was having dinner with them Friday when he received a call, purportedly from one of the woman’s relatives, and left hurriedly, telling his brothers that he would be back soon.
When he did not return for a long time, the family claimed they tried to reach him on his mobile phone, but the calls went unanswered.
While looking for him the next morning, they found his body dumped in the field. Their suspicions of foul play, they claimed, grew stronger when they heard that the 18-year-old woman was also dead and her family was preparing for her last rites.
Also read: Stolen glances to stolen lives: Stories behind the ‘honour killings’ of Rajasthan, Haryana
‘A conspiracy her family was planning for a while’
According to the man’s family, love blossomed between him and the woman after he started driving her family’s tractor a few years ago.
Over time, he also started working as a DJ, but continued to do odd jobs for her family, claimed the the dead man’s elder brother.
“We don’t know if they were in a relationship, but they would keep meeting for the past 5-6 years. I never asked my brother what was going on between them, but villagers would often talk about it,” the brother told ThePrint.
He added: “She used to come to our house as well. Whenever she would call, he would go running to meet her. They spent hours talking on the phone.”
The man’s brother also said that the woman was from an affluent family, but added that they had never received threats from her family. “The woman’s mother, brothers, everyone would call him through the day assigning him work. He also drove the tractor for them, but they never paid full wages. For the past year, he would spend his entire day at her house. He would take her and the family shopping, and take her for rides on the tractor.”
Terming his death a “conspiracy” which the woman’s family had been “planning for a while”, the youth’s brother said, “he just ran off with his phone that night”. The family suspects it was one of the woman’s brothers who had called him Friday night.
Sources in Basti police said that while the accused dumped the man’s body, the woman’s body was kept in the house all of Friday night.
“They were in a relationship. It is unclear if they were threatened earlier as well. No complaints were received,” a senior police officer said, not wanting to be named.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
Also read: ‘Begged bystanders, touched feet, no one helped’, says wife of Hyderabad ‘honour killing’ victim