All she wanted to do in life was to become an honest police officer. Every morning, she would get up at dawn, slip into her tracksuit, put on her sneakers and head out.
On Friday morning, like every other day, the Class 12 student ate her breakfast, washed clothes, cleaned the house and turned the TV on to a full volume.
At 11:35 AM, she hanged herself from her room’s ceiling fan.
“We had no idea that jogging would become a curse for her,” Geeta Devi, the girl’s mother recalled, sitting outside her two-room rented home in outer Delhi’s Bakhtawar Pur village.
According to Devi, a local neighbourhood boy continuously stalked his daughter and sexually harassed her while she went out for her morning run.
“He would keep an eye on her and follow her. The boy knew she wanted to be a police officer. During one of her encounters with the boy, he told my daughter that he will give her a job in the police and train her. But, he would also use these false promises to touch her inappropriately,” Devi said.
Devi, who runs a gas and chulha (stove) store, also claimed that the accused threatened her daughter, saying that he will “kill her family” if she didn’t marry him.
The family doesn’t have a clear idea when this harassment began, but early last week the family felt that the incessant stalking needed to be addressed since the teenager was clearly distressed by it.
On last Wednesday, the families from each side got involved. “When she told us about it, we went to the boy’s home and tried to reason with his parents. They abused us and used expletives against my wife and daughter. The boy’s grandfather punched me,” Kedar Yadav, the girl’s father, recalled.
Hours after the argument, his landlord – a relative of the accused – walked into Yadav’s rented house and asked him to vacate the house.
“We are from Bihar. They told us we are outsiders. The landlord is related to the accused as they both belong to the Chauhan clan. Nobody intervened on our behalf,” 50-year-old Yadav who works as a farm labourer added.
“The idea of eviction from home terrified my daughter. For two days, the landlord repeatedly threatened us. Since we were at work, she had to deal with him,” Devi said, looking back at the horrific turn of events since last week.
When contacted, the landlord Dataram Chauhan was not available for comment. However, in several media reports, he had alleged that he asked the family to vacate the house as they were “not paying the rent.”
Yadav denied the rent-angle but confirmed that he owed Chauhan some money.
“I lost my mother last month. Only two weeks back, my brother died of cancer. Even if I owed him money, why did he bring up the issue with my daughter? Why didn’t he approach me? He used to come when she was all alone and then asked her to vacate the house,” said Yadav, adding, “She couldn’t take these threats anymore.”
The loss is clearly visible in Devi’s sullen eyes, which can bearly hold her tears. Getting justice for her daughter is what keeps her going. It seems cumbersome even when her tired and grief-stricken eyelids regularly tilt up towards the maroon dusty ceiling fan.
“She never gave an inkling that she was contemplating such an extreme step.”
Devi would do anything to hear her child’s voice once again, but her daughter did speak to her for the last time through a suicide note.
“Maine koi galti nahi ki hai…Idhar jao toh ladke, udhar jao toh ladke, meri zindagi kharaab kar rahe the taaki main kuch na kar sakoon (I haven’t committed any mistake. Everywhere I go, I find men. They are ruining my life so that I don’t succeed in life),” the girl wrote in a moving suicide note.
Yadav said his daughter committed suicide to save her family from eviction from their rented house.
According to the post-mortem report, the cause of death was “asphyxia due to ante-mortem hanging.”
Police has filed a case of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of Indian Penal Code and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act at Alipur police station. The accused boy, who has been on the run since the incident, has been identified as 21-year-old Mayank alias Golu.
When InUth visited the accused’s residence on Monday, the family members refused to say anything and shut the door.
“We haven’t made any arrests so far in the case. On Monday, we took the victim’s family to Delhi State Legal Services Authority for legal aid. We will be recording their statements on Wednesday,” an official from Alipur Police station told InUth.
For the girl’s 19-year-old brother Sonu Rai, the incident has revealed a grim isolation the family finds itself in.
“We have been living in this village since last one year. My father has been living in Delhi since last 35 years but we feel like strangers here. The villagers don’t want to get involved. No one is on our side,” said Rai, breaking down.
“I even called my sister’s school friends to inform them about her death. None of them came.”