India: Father Sets Pregnant Daughter, Husband on Fire for Marrying Out of Caste

Traditional Indian Wedding. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Wikimedia Commons

A father in India left his pregnant 19-year-old daughter and her 23-year-old husband to die after pouring gasoline on the couple and setting them on fire at the beginning of the month over their inter-caste marriage, local news outlets reported Monday.

“According to the police, 23-year-old Mangesh Ransing, and his wife Rukmini (19) were doused in kerosene and set on fire in Ahmednagar’s Nighoj village by three of Rukmini’s relatives — including her father and two uncles — on May 1,” the Hindu reported.

Rukmini Ransing, the daughter, reportedly succumbed to her injuries on May 5 after the shocking incident took place in the Ahmednagar district of India’s state of Maharashtra. Her husband, Mangesh Ransing, is in life-threatening condition at Pune’s Sassoon General Hospital with severe burn injuries to his face and other parts of the body, the Wire from India revealed.

Against the wishes of Rukmini’s family, the couple married six months ago. Vijaykumar Botre, the local assistant inspector serving as the investigating officer in the case, indicated to the Hindu that Mangesh and Rukmini were married around six months ago amid strong opposition from the girl’s relatives, who vehemently objected to the inter-caste marriage.”

The husband reportedly belongs to Lohar community, considered a nomadic tribe, while the late wife, who originates from Uttar Pradesh, is from a Scheduled Caste called Pashi.

Mangesh’s family told the Wire that local police failed to take action when he repeatedly warned about potential violence and threats at the hands of his wife’s father, who remains at large.

Law enforcement has already arrested two of the female victim’s uncles, Surendra Kumar and Ghanshyam Ranej, who reportedly helped her father commit the crime.

The Wire learned from the male victim’s sister, Priya Ransing, that Rukmini’s mother brought her daughter back to her maternal home on April 30, a move that ultimately lured the husband there.

Inspector Botre told the Hindu:

When Mangesh arrived to take her back the following day, Rukmini’s relatives refused. A heated altercation ensued after which Mangesh was brutally assaulted by Rukmini’s father and his two uncles. The trio then doused the newlyweds with kerosene and set them on fire.

Priya told the Wire that Mangesh reached out to police before heading to Rukmini’s maternal home, but they ignored his pleas for help.

She proclaimed:

In the evening, Rukmini called my brother and asked him to take her back home. Mangesh feared for his life, so once again, he approached Nighoj [village] police and demanded they intervene. Instead, he was told to sort his family matter on his own. … The moment Mangesh visited Rukmini’s maternal house on May 1, her father and two uncles overpowered him and beat him up brutally. They locked the couple in a room, poured petrol on them and set them ablaze. They were left there to die.

Rukmini’s uncle proceeded to attack the husband with rocks when they realized he was still alive and trying to carry his wife to safety despite his severe injuries.

Inspector Botre told the Hindu the victims’ screams prompted their neighbors to rush them to a nearby hospital.

Priya revealed:

On May 1, they were first taken to Ahmednagar Civil Hospital, where doctors told us to take them to Sassoon in Pune as their condition was critical. Because that day was a holiday, we could not get an ambulance. On the next day, we got them to Sassoon. Rukmini died on May 5.

“We did not think that parents can harm their own children,” she declared in disbelief.

Priya surmised that Rukmini’s father had likely planned a second marriage after she married Mangesh or had sold her off to someone within her caste, a long-standing practice in India.

She told the Wire:

He had even booked train tickets and wanted to take her there. Her father had taken Rs 1 lakh [about $1,435]  from somebody and wanted to give her away. Rukmini was asking my brother to arrange Rs 1 lakh to free her.

Rukmini’s family refused to claim her body at the hospital.

“Mangesh’s siblings have demanded strict punishment and want action to be taken against the policemen who did not take his complaint seriously even after repeated pleas,” the Wire noted.

Law enforcement officers allegedly attempted to pin Rukmini’s murder on her husband, an unnamed relative told the news outlet.

“Police kept asking him if he had done something to Rukmini,” the relative claimed.

The Ahmednagar district of India’s Maharashtra is no stranger to caste-related fatalities.

“In 2013, three Dalit youths — Sachin Gharu (24), Sandeep Thanvar (25) and Rahul Kandare (20) — were brutally murdered, and their mutilated body parts scattered in a septic tank and a dried-up well Ahmednagar’s Sonai village,” the Hindu acknowledged.

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