First, the father-in-law tried to slam the doors on her, then the husband filed for divorce, and finally, the court gave her the marching orders.
Enough to push Lakshmi Devi Gupta over the edge. So when the court officials reached FE 136 — her home since 1996 — to serve an evacuation notice on her, the 45-year-old woman chose to end her life.
“It’s a case of suicide. Lakshmi Devi set herself on fire around 11 am on Wednesday. She sustained over 90 per cent burns and died while she was being rushed to the Bidhannagar hospital,” said Praveen Kumar, superintendent of police (North 24-Parganas).
Till late on Wednesday, Lakshmi Devi’s body was lying unclaimed at the hospital morgue. Police said there was no complaint lodged by her family members.
But Lakshmi Devi’s brothers Shivshankar Goel and Gourishankar Goel, residents of Howrah, alleged that her in-laws had killed her and that their attempt to lodge a complaint against the Guptas had been thwarted by the Salt Lake police station.
Lakshmi Devi’s parents, Ramnivas Goel and Narayanidevi Goel, who are presently in Pune have been informed of the tragedy. They are expected back in town on Thursday.
According to the Goels, Lakshmi Devi married Shiv Kumar Gupta in July 1992, and marital discord began from 1995. They had no children.
She was involved in a legal battle with father-in-law Ram Kumar Gupta from 2001 over the possession of the ground floor of FE 136.
Her husband filed for divorce the same year.
“Last week, the Sealdah third civil judge court (junior division) passed an order to remove all encroachments and impediments from the ground floor of FE 136. We went there to carry out the order,” said one of the three court officials, who visited FE 136 (picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha) with four policemen on Wednesday.
The team reached the Gupta household around 10.45 am and briefed Laxmi Devi about the purpose of their visit.
“She asked us to wait outside and went inside the room. We could see her calling up someone over the phone (apparently brother Gourishankar). Then, after around 15 minutes, we suddenly saw smoke billowing out of the window. We peeped in and saw her engulfed in flames,” said the court official.