Neighbours set woman ablaze

Neighbours set woman ablaze

Shahida Begum

Shahida Begum of Modi Road suffered 95 per cent burns after her neighbours allegedly beat her up and poured kerosene on her at 8:30 pm. While she is battling for life at the Victoria Hospital, her relatives charged the police with not acting against the suspects. Late on Thursday evening the police arrested Jabina, suspected to be the main culprit.
“She will die in a few hours but the police are yet to record her statement,” Shahida’s brother Shabbir, his voice choked with anguish, told Deccan Herald.

The attack on Shahida was preceded by a quarrel that her three-year-old son Sahil picked up with her neighbour Jabina’s son around 1 pm on Wednesday. Shabbir said her sister tried to pacify a furious Jabina and subsequently left for canvassing.

But an unrelenting Jabina and some of her relatives barged into Shahida’s one-room tenement after she returned around 4 pm. They cornered her, dragged her by her hair and mercilessly rained blows on her, said Shabbir, adding “my sister implored with them but that was to no avail”.

Outraged by the assault on her, Shahida lodged a police complaint of harassment and torture against some of her neighbours, including Jabina. She then left for canvassing again and returned home around 8 pm.

“We are poor slum-dwellers. My sister is a maid and was being paid Rs 200 daily for canvassing,” Shabbir said.

Family attacked

But Jabina, her uncle Imtiaz, and brothers Barkath, Zameer, Rahmath and Qadeer, however, had other plans for Shahida. As soon as she returned with her husband Kaleem, mother Fatima Bi and sister Fahmida, they pounced on her, punching, kicking and hurling abuses at her, Shabbir alleged. They not only thrashed Kaleem but also did not spare Fatima Bi and Fahmida, Shabbir charged.

As Kaleem’s cries for help went unanswered, Jabina grabbed a can of kerosene and decanted the six litres on Shahida. Doused in the inflammable liquid, Shahida was dragged outside and a burning matchstick was thrown at her, Shabbir alleged.

Her clothes caught fire which charred her, the darkened skin peeling off to reveal red flesh.

According to Shabbir, Kaleem then took a half-burnt Shahida to D J Halli police station and lodged a complaint. Later, she was taken to Victoria Hospital.

Denying the charge, Pulikeshi Nagar ACP B B Ashok Kumar said: “We lodged an FIR only after recording her statement.” According to Kumar, her neighbours have an entirely different take on the incident. “They claim it was Shahida who set herself ablaze. But we are going by her statement,” he added. A case of attempt to murder has been registered.

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