A day after the death of Lakshmi Devi Gupta, 45, who set herself on fire when court officers came knocking at FE 136, Salt Lake, to serve an eviction notice, police arrested her husband Shiv Kumar Gupta, father-in-law Ram Kumar Gupta and brother-in-law Pawan Kumar Gupta. They were charged with torture and abetment of suicide.
Gourishankar Goel, brother of Lakshmi Devi, filed an FIR with Bidhannagar (South) police station late on Wednesday, accusing the Guptas of torturing her and pushing her to suicide.
The three Guptas were arrested at their FE 136 residence on Thursday morning and brought to the police station, from where they were taken to Bidhannagar court.
They were booked under Sections 498, 498A, 306 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, involving detention of a married woman with criminal intent, cruelty, abetment of suicide, and crime committed by several persons with a common intention. The trio appeared before sub-divisional judicial magistrate Bipasha Mondal and was remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
“We had paid a lot of dowry, but they started torturing my sister for more soon after she got married in July 1992. Despite such torture, my sister did not want to leave her sasural,” said brothers Gourishankar and Shibshankar.
Lakshmi Devi’s father-in-law Ram Kumar Gupta rubbished the charges levelled against the family. “Divorce proceedings between my son and daughter-in-law were on for years. We were asking her to leave the premises, but she refused to vacate the ground floor, where she wanted to set up a business. She had even obtained an interim court order against us, forcing us to move Sealdah court to evict her. Now, she has put us all in trouble and disgraced the family,” he told Metro on the court premises.
Lakshmi Devi, a commerce graduate, was married to Shiv Kumar Gupta on July 8, 1992. The marriage soon turned sour. In 1995, the marital dispute was brought to the family counselling centre at Lalbazar and also to the human rights commission.
The centre arbitrated that she would live alone on the ground floor, but her father-in-law Ram Kumar Gupta was engaged in a legal battle with her since 2001, seeking to vacate the ground floor. The same year, her husband Shiv Kumar filed for a divorce. The couple was childless.
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. When court officials arrived on Thursday to serve an eviction notice, Lakshmi Devi allegedly set herself on fire. She died on her way to Bidhannagar hospital.
Her parents hadn’t returned to their Howrah residence, from Pune, till late on Thursday.