Girl of 15 refuses to marry, step-mother sets her on fire

Three persons, including the step-mother, have been arrested in West Bengal's Hooghly district after they set on fire a minor girl who refused to be forcibly married, police said Friday.

Class IX student Roshanara Khatoon was set on fire Thursday morning by her step-mother and two others of her family. The 15-year-old girl failed to turn up for the scheduled pre-nuptial ceremony, preferring instead to study at that time.

With over 70 percent burns, the girl battles for life at Arambag subdivisional hospital in the district.

"We have arrested Doelara Begum, the step-mother of the girl, and two others of the family, and booked them under several non-bailable offences, including attempt to murder," said a police officer.

The attack took place in Khanakul, Hooghly district, some 87 km from Kolkata.

Alarmed by the girl's shrieks, neighbours rushed to the house and rescued her. She was sent to a hospital. Neighbours also got together and gave the three people involved in the incident a sound thrashing before handing them over to police.

"The girl is a bright student, but was subjected to regular torture by the step-mother," said one of the neighbours.

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