Basti: Three brothers of a 19-year-old Muslim woman who was buried by her family in alleged secrecy Saturday conspired to eliminate a Dalit youth who was in love with her, and may have killed him in front of her eyes, UP police officers probing a suspected case of honour killing in Basti district told ThePrint.
The woman — whose remains were exhumed in the intervening night of 27-28 August, seven hours after the youth’s body was found in a field near her home — could have either taken her own life by consuming insecticide or been forced to drink the same after confronting her family members about his death, they added.
Basti police officers further said that an autopsy of the woman’s body had revealed that she had consumed poison, but the cause of her death is still unclear. The youth died of strangulation.
Though the youth’s body was found in a field, he was killed in the woman’s room Friday night, after one of her brothers found the duo there, Rudhauli Station House Officer (SHO) Ram Prakash Mishra told ThePrint.
Both deaths took place in Padariya Chet Singh village of Basti. Police have booked the woman’s two older brothers and her cousin under sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) on the basis of a complaint by the youth’s mother.
No complaint has been filed from the woman’s family, say police sources.
Speaking to ThePrint, Circle Officer (Rudhauli) Ambika Ram said that the woman’s family was allegedly opposed to her relationship with the youth. “About a month back, they found the man in her room and left them with a warning. But the two kept in touch over phone and even met when the family was asleep.”
CO Ram further said the two spoke to each other the night they died, adding that prima facie, it appears that the woman had consumed insecticide: “Her body had turned black. An empty bottle of insecticide was found in the room.”
Another senior police officer told ThePrint the post-mortem had revealed that she had injury marks on her chin and chest, and stains that indicated she had been foaming at the mouth — which were indicative of poisoning.
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Signs of confrontation
The youth ploughed the village fields for a living and was frequently employed at the woman’s house, Abdul Rehman, a resident of Padariya Chet Singh village, told ThePrint.
The two lived 100 metres away from one another.
He had been working with the woman’s family for five years and they had great trust in him, according to the 18-year-old’s kin.
“He would stay here for only about 2-4 hours but spend most of his time at their house,” his younger brother told ThePrint, adding: “All her family members used to call him for work. Everyone in her family, even some relatives living far away, knew him. He worked there as a domestic help.”
Sushil Chaudhary, a villager at whose house the youth’s parents work, explained how close he was to the woman’s family.
“He would take the women of the family to the doctor when they were sick. If the girl had to give an exam, he would take her to the exam centre,” he told ThePrint.
The Dalit man allegedly left his house some time between 7.30 and 8 pm on Friday evening. His family claims he got a call from the woman’s older brother.
“He got a call from the woman’s brother who asked him to come to their house. He left between 7.30 and 8 pm and did not return. Some villagers saw him till around 11 pm,” the youth’s brother told ThePrint.
It wasn’t until Saturday morning that the family began suspecting something was wrong. At 6 am the next day, they heard that the woman had died.
“My mother then went to their house because we knew that our brother had also gone there and got anxious about him,” the brother said.
The family began to frantically call him and found his phone a few steps from his body.
The police, however, claim that it was a call from the woman that brought the man to her house. They also believe that the woman’s family had found the youth with her Friday.
Rudhauli CO Ram said the woman’s eldest two brothers confronted her and the youth that night. “He crept into her house from a back door and entered her room. Her second brother, who slept in another room, realised they were together and confronted them. He and his older brother called another cousin who lived with them and strangled the youth in her room.”
Police believe his body was dragged to the field where it was found.
The youth’s brothers found his body at 5 pm Saturday, police said — hours after he went missing.
Meanwhile, labourers who helped exhume the woman’s body on 28 August at midnight too claimed that there were marks of foam around her mouth. The body was exhumed following directions from the sub-divisional magistrate and police.
“We saw foam stains around her mouth. Her mouth was wide open and her body had turned black,” Irshad Ali, one of the four labourers involved in the body’s exhumation, told ThePrint. “The body was emitting a strong stench and the sheet over her head had turned reddish in some places.”
Police said her viscera had been preserved to help pinpoint the exact cause of death.
Hints in Facebook posts
Although the woman and the man kept their relationship a secret, the latter’s Facebook post showed that the relationship was at least a year old.
So much did the woman’s family trust him, in fact, that her older brother had given the man a key to his bike, the youth’s brother told ThePrint.
“He would plough their fields. He would get calls from other villagers too but when someone from their family called, he would drop everything and go. He would listen to no one,” he said, adding that the family had yet to pay him for the work he did this farming season.
On Facebook, he would sometimes use the woman’s first name or half of her name. Sometimes, he used only her initials. For instance, two posts from October 2021 had the woman’s first name with his photo, along with the words: “Meri adhoori mohabbat (My incomplete love)”.
However, his more recent posts were more cryptic. On 4 March, he posted a photo of a youngster trying to cut his hand.
Additional Superintendent of Police Deependra Nath Chaudhary told ThePrint that they have yet to see the posts, but the two had been regularly in touch with each other for the last few months.
“They would frequently talk to each other over the phone and records have shown regular conversations between the two,” he added.
The youth’s brother told ThePrint that the woman’s cousin had sworn revenge after the youth sided with the woman’s brothers in a fight a year ago.
“About a year back, the woman’s brothers and her cousin fought over some construction-related matter. The two brothers beat up the cousin.”
The cousin, he said, was angry after his brother went against him, he said.
“About ten days back, their cousin had said someone needed to be eliminated, even if it meant selling off a few bighas of land to achieve it,” he said.
He also claimed that youth’s body bore marks of injuries on his arms and private parts. The police however have denied these claims.
This is an updated version of the story.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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