Patna, Aug. 29: A 24-year-old woman today consumed poison in front of the police chief’s office after the state women’s commission refused to accept her petition accusing her in-laws of harassment just because it was handwritten in Bengali.
The woman, Baisakhi Ray Choudhary, is undergoing treatment at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), where doctors said her condition was critical but stable.
Members of the Bihar Bangla Academy said the commission’s stance was shocking. “Bengali has got the status of minority language in the state. Under Article 29 of the Constitution, citizens residing in any part of India and having a distinct language, script or culture have the right to conserve the same. This is an attack on the country’s sovereignty,” said Dilip Sinha, chairman, Bihar Bangla Academy.
Baisakhi stays with her husband and in-laws at Alamganj locality of Patna City. She had, about a year ago, attended the senior superintendent of police (SSP)’s janata durbar, accusing her in-laws of ill-treating her.
Lying in her hospital bed, Baisakhi, speaking in a mix of Bengali and Hindi, just about managed to say that she was not “treated properly” at home. “I went to the women’s commission,” she said, but was too feeble to continue. No family member was with her.
Women’s commission members acknowledged that Baisakhi had come to visit them with her application around 1pm.
“I asked her to get the application typed. The petition was handwritten in Bengali. A petition filed in the commission has to be in Hindi. I also told her that she could get it typed near Patna High Court. But she never came back,” commission member Rekha Trivedi said.
Baisakhi instead went to the SSP’s office. It is yet unclear what happened after that since she collapsed in front of the office around 3pm and was taken to PMCH by passersby. City SP Jayant Kant said he had no idea what exactly happened.