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Woman, baby set ablaze by husband

Dumka, Jan. 30: A 22-year-old woman and her baby daughter were allegedly set ablaze by her husband and in-laws while she was breastfeeding the one-and-a-half-year-old at a village in Dumka district in the wee hours of today.

According to deceased Annu Devi’s uncle, she paid the price for giving birth to a daughter as her husband and his family had always wanted a son.

The accused went into hiding after the incident. But her parents and relatives found her in-laws Mahendra Masat and Vimla Devi from the house of a neighbour at Jhakiya village and handed them over to police.

Her husband Gunjan Masat and brother-in-law Damru Masat are absconding.

Annu, who hailed from Balathar village in Jarmundi police station area, married Gunjan of neighbouring Jhakiya village about two-and-a-half-years back. All was well till she gave birth to a daughter, Kajal, one-and-a-half-years ago, said her relatives.

“Her husband and in-laws started torturing her as they held her responsible for bringing the girl into this world. They wanted a boy and also demanded a motorcycle and television set from us after the birth of the girl,” Annu’s uncle Divakar Rana, who brought her up after the death of her mother, told The Telegraph.

Divakar further alleged that Gunjan and his parents forced her to boil paddy around 3am last night in a bid to show that her death was accidental.

“After putting the container on the stove, she started breastfeeding her baby when they poured kerosene on both of them before putting them on fire in the courtyard. They did not inform me about her death. We came to know about it from a villager, who called us up around 4am. We immediately rushed to the spot and found both the mother and the baby lying in the courtyard,” Divakar said.

The girl was already dead while Annu, who had sustained over 90 per cent burns, narrated the horror to her family members while being rushed to the sadar hospital.

But the doctors referred her to Bokaro after administering first aid. She succumbed on the way. Her father Raghuni Rana lodged a police case.

Dumka SP Nirmal Kumar Mishra said raids were being conducted to nab the absconding husband and brother-in-law.