Local people protest against the alleged honour killing at Balakati on Friday. Telegraph picture
Bhubaneswar, Sept. 20: An 18-year-old girl was burnt alive today allegedly by her parents at Balakati on the city outskirts.
The victim, Uma Bharati Mallik, a native of Balasore, had eloped with her neighbour four months ago and married him against her parents’ wishes.
Local residents detained Radha Gobind Mallik, 42, and Santilata Mallik, 40, of Betagadia village of Balasore district and later handed them over to police. Nigamananda Mallik, 28, alias Mantu and Uma had run away from home in June and got married in a local temple. They had been staying in a rented house at Balakati for the past two months.
Preliminary investigations revealed that Mantu had been married before and has a one-year-old son. “The family was opposed to their relationship. After they had eloped, villagers used to ridicule the girl’s parents, which might have enraged them and led them to resort to such a step,” said a senior police official.
The police said Santilata, who had been talking to Uma on phone for the past few days, visited the couple’s rented house yesterday and urged them to return to their village. She had reportedly agreed to solemnise a formal marriage ceremony.
“Her father reached Balakati this morning and asked Mantu to arrange an autorickshaw to go to the nearest bus stop from where all of them would leave for the village. When Mantu went out looking for an autorickshaw, the girl’s parents allegedly poured kerosene on her and set her afire. To ensure that the victim could not scream for help, they had allegedly stuffed a towel in her mouth,” said the police.
Local resident Pramod Behera, who saw smoke billowing from the house, rushed to the spot, said: “As I entered the house, I saw the girl had been set on fire and her mouth was gagged. I ran out to fetch water and poured it on her.” Several villagers gathered at the house and detained the two accused.
With 90 per cent burns, Uma died on the spot. Later, her body was sent to Capital Hospital for autopsy. “It looks like a case of honour killing. Her parents have been arrested and investigation is on,” said deputy commissioner of police Nitinjeet Singh.
The incident sparked tension in the area with the local residents allegedly manhandling the girl’s parents as well as the police personnel.
One of their neighbours said the newly-wed couple had been living in an under-construction rented house for the past two months. “Both of them had approached me for accommodation. They shared a good relationship and appeared very happy together. Mantu was working as an electrician in our area,” said house owner Sarat Chandra Mohapatra.