Burning of Wife and abandoning minor daughter still not a crime in UP

If attempts on life and desertion of a minor girl child won't shake the State Women's Commission or the UP Police into action to do their jobs then one never knows what will. In yet another bizarre case of apathy and insensitivity the UP Police and the State Women's Commission together ensured that not one but two women; one a minor, were not given access to justice on their rights being brutally violated.

Sample This: Priya's (name changed to protect confidentiality) ordeal began when she was abandoned at the Alambagh bus stand by her husband Manoj who brought her to Lucknow on 6/12/2010 from Gorakhpur after he attempted to murder her and failed.

She was then brought to Lucknow and abandoned at the Alambagh Bustand with her baby daughter, four month old baby, by the very man who tried to kill her. Today he still walks free, while Priya is on her death bed and her child languishes at the Shishu Grah protection home at Prag Narain Road.

Efforts by representatives of child line to locate the woman’s husband and even her parents were fruitless as all of whom once located in Gorakhpur and contacted on phone refused to accept responsibility of the injured woman and her minor child.

As per the version of Priya recorded by Child Line she is a Muslim woman married to a Hindu boy. The marriage took place five years back in Gorakhpur. As a result she was disowned from her own  maternal family and community.

From the marriage Manoj and Priya who are residents of Kalyanpur, Thana Badailganj, District Gorakpur, have two children. A son and a four month old daughter who is now at child line since both maternal and paternal families have refused to take responsibility of the minor infant. Nothing is known about the elder child who is still at Gorakhpur living without a mother.

As per the details provided by Priya, her husband Manoj tried to kill her by setting her afire with a gas stove but she survived and was badly burnt. Manoj then told her that he would bring her to Lucknow for treatment. Priya agreed and came with him bringing along her infant daughter.

On reaching the Alambagh bus stand on 6/12/2010 Manoj asked her to sit at the bus stand while he brought some food for her. But Manoj did not return even after two hours and left her stranded there. Where she was picked up by the Alambagh Thana Staff and brought to Balrampur district Hopsital.

Priya's state since has continued to deteriorate in the hospital and she is in condition where she has also become mentally disturbed. Attempts to place her in a shelter home have failed as no home is ready to accept her in the condition she is.

Abandoned by her own family and her husband and in laws she has no where to go if she survives. But in the meantime her child bereft of her family's love continues to live in the protection home with a bleak future to look forward to if she loses her mother as well.

What makes the case even more unbelievable is that staff of Alambagh Thana despite being intimated by volunteers of Child Line Lucknow that the woman claimed to have been burnt by her husband, the Thana officials did not find it necessary to lodge FIRs and investigate the case. Their response was ..."it was their moral duty to admit the woman to a hospital which they have done, from thereon no police action is possible!"

This attitude despite the fact that Priya,  a young Muslim woman from Gorakhpur is today fighting for her life at Balrampur Hospital after being attacked and burnt alive by her own husband!

The State Women's Commission on the other hand preferred to keep its silence even though Child Line Lucknow had send them a written request to initiate action in Kanchan's case way back on 20/12/2010, when the police refused to lodge a case.

The Chairperson on being asked about what has been done in this case responded that reports have been called for from the police! Sadly she was not even aware that the police has not bothered to file a case to report back the details to the Women's Commission request.

The case has now been forwarded to Saaksham Foundation by Child Line Lucknow to seek legal and financial compensation for the mother and daugther.

While Saaksham Foundation has taken this case up and has initiated police action by faxing details of Manoj to IG Gorakhpur's Office demanding filing of criminal charges against him for attempt to murder and desertion. Copy of the letters have also been handed over to the DGP office as well.

Letters have also been faxed to Member Secretary State Women's Commission requesting her to take immediate action to help get Priya and her infant daughter justice and their right in whatever capacity they can.

But the plight of Priya and her daughter is a reflection of the moral less society where the women and children continue to live as victims.

Saaksham Foundation thus makes an urgent appeal on behalf of Priya and her infant daughter to the people of Lucknow, the civil society organisations and the Media Fraternity in the city to stand up in voicing your support for not only Priya and her child but all those thousands of women and children living in distress in Uttar Pradesh whose voice is not being heard even now.

Anjali Singh
(The author is a senior journalist in Lucknow and leads Saaksham Foundation)