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She’s my first & last girlfriend: An inter-caste school love story that’s ended up in ICU

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B. Sandeep and Madhavi Chari were attacked over caste differences by her father. Even as Madhavi fights for her life, Sandeep says nothing will happen to her.

Hyderabad: A chance encounter at an examination hall in 2013, in which both B. Sandeep and Madhavi Chari had appeared to write their class 10 exams, led to a love story that almost cost them their lives.

His seat number was 29, hers was 30. “When I turned around before the exam started, there she was — Madhavi. After a year of talking, I asked her to be my girlfriend,” he said.

On 12 September, Sandeep, a 21-year-old Dalit, married Madhavi, a 20-year-old from the OBC community, at a small Arya Samaj temple in Hyderabad.

Also read: Telangana father wanted to ‘find his daughter & kill her’ after she married a Dalit

A week later, Madhavi’s father violently attacked her in broad daylight on the Erragadda road in the city. She suffered deep cuts to her neck and face, and is recovering now after a tense round of surgeries.

The father’s attack was a result of his alcoholism and protectiveness for his daughter, said Vijay Kumar, assistant commissioner of police, Banjara Hills.

“He was angry that she had married without his permission. When he asked her to come home, she said no. It was his intention to attack her only,” said Kumar.

Manohar Chari, Madhavi’s father, was arrested from a relative’s house the same evening and booked under Section 307 (attempted murder) of the IPC and under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The incident came days after a Dalit man named Pranay was hacked to death in Nalgonda district of Telangana on the orders of his upper-caste father-in-law by a machete-wielding henchman.

Unacceptable love

Madhavi’s mother was against their relationship from the moment she found out three years ago. Speaking on behalf of his wife as she is still in the intensive care unit (ICU), Sandeep said Madhavi used to complain often about how hard things were at home.

“Even in 2015, her mother said that if she married me she would kill her. ‘You’re from a different caste, a lower caste,’ she’d often say. Before that, I was never made to feel small or inferior, in school, college, by my family, and especially not by Madhavi,” Sandeep, who juggles between working at Erragadda’s Naidu Restaurant and finishing his final year of B.Com from Vivekananda College, told ThePrint.

When Madhavi reached Yashoda Hospital on 19 September, her left arm was attached to her body by two-three inches of skin. She had lost so much blood that her haemoglobin count was 10 points lower than normal.

Having just visited Madhavi’s doctors at the hospital, Sandeep said what he loved most about his wife was her kindness and compassion.

“She never got angry, and she never saw caste. Not once since I’ve known her has she ever said that her caste was bigger than mine. She used to say that we both are human, and that’s all that matters,” he said.

Madhavi’s vitals are now stable, although she continues to be in the ICU to prevent infections. Not one member of her family has visited her since the incident.

Sandeep, in love for the first time, said, “She is my first and last girlfriend.” He is certain “she will come back safe, nothing will happen to her”.

Difficult journey 

As per police information, Manohar had already promised Madhavi’s hand to a close relative many years ago, while her mother wanted to marry her to a boy from the Mala caste.

But despite the fierce resistance from her family, the young couple’s love prevailed. “She said she wants to be with me and can’t live without me. No one was called for the wedding — not my mother or my friends, or any of her relatives. It was just us, and that was enough,” said Sandeep.

Life for him has been far from easy. He lost his father eight years ago when he was in class six, leaving his mother Ramadevi to fend for her two sons. At the time, Ramadevi was unemployed and Sandeep and his brother B. Satish were too young to help.

“It was extremely difficult. We were so poor we didn’t even have food to eat. If someone gave food, or anyone had leftovers, only then we’d eat,” said Sandeep.

Also read: ‘Progressive’ south India is catching up with the north when it comes to honour killings

Ramadevi started cooking and cleaning people’s houses to put her children through school. After graduation from school, Sandeep and Satish worked odd jobs to support her and fund their higher education.

‘Constant threat’

“I only earn Rs 5,000 a month, but we are managing,” said Sandeep.

His main driving force is to provide for his mother and Madhavi. Even after their wedding, the couple put their travel plans on hold because they wanted to save for the future.

“I told Madhavi that I will provide for her and that she doesn’t have to keep a job. I will work and I will earn,” added Sandeep.

His friends still cannot comprehend that an incident like this happened.

“He’s such a funny, kind person, we’ve never seen him in so much pain,” Clinton, a friend of Sandeep, told ThePrint.

Srikanth, Sandeep’s childhood friend and neighbour, claimed he is certain Madhavi’s father had been planning this attack for some time now.

“He used to show up drunk to Sandeep’s house every night after the wedding. He used to threaten them a lot. But we never expected that this would actually happen,” he said.

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