Burdwan, Feb. 28: A 12-year-old girl killed herself by setting herself ablaze today after being allegedly molested by a youth when she was alone at her Burdwan home.
A police officer said the girl had mentioned in her dying statement to doctors that Amar Majhi, a 19-year-old mason, had molested her last evening and taken objectionable pictures. “The youth had threatened to circulate the pictures if the girl told anybody about the molestation,” the officer said.
The girl’s father, a bus cleaner, and another villager, however, said the 12-year-old had told them that the youth had raped her.
The police said the girl, whose mother and two sisters are in Murshidabad for the mother’s surgery, doused herself in kerosene and set herself ablaze this morning. She suffered 95 per cent burns and died at Katwa sub-divisional hospital hours later.
Majhi was arrested this afternoon from a bus shed in Murshidabad’s Burwan, 50km from the girl’s Ketugram home. The police have started a suo motu case of molestation and abetment to suicide.
The girl’s father, who was not at home at the time of the alleged molestation and when his daughter set herself ablaze, said: “I don’t know why the police registered a case of molestation. My daughter told me before dying that she had been raped. I will lodge a complaint of rape.”
A neighbour echoed the father, who leaves home for work at 6am and returns late in the night. “When we were taking her to the hospital, she told us that she had been raped. I recorded her statements on my cellphone,” the neighbour said.
The girl’s aunt, who lives next door, said she saw smoke coming out of the 12-year-old’s house around 11am today.
“I heard her scream. Other neighbours and I rushed to her house and saw her engulfed in flames. There was a strong smell of kerosene. Some villagers doused the flames by wrapping her in a blanket. Others brought a cycle van to take her to the local block hospital (1km away),” the aunt said.
Doctors at the block hospital referred her to Katwa sub-divisional hospital, 6km away. A doctor at the Katwa hospital said it would be difficult to establish whether the girl had been raped as her body had “almost been charred”.
The girl reached the Katwa hospital around 12.30pm. She died three hours later.
Burdwan superintendent of police S.M.H. Meerza said: “The girl said in her statement to doctors that she had been molested by Amar Majhi. We have started a case of molestation and abetment to suicide. The accused has been arrested.”
Asked about the father’s allegation that the girl had been raped, Meerza said: “The girl did not mention rape to the doctors at the Katwa hospital.”
The officer said the arrested youth’s cellphone had been seized.