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Death ‘penalty’ for love marriage

Bokaro, March 20: Imagine you are a 21-year-old girl who eloped to get married to your boyfriend and are living happily together in a far-off metro, but you still nurse a secret sorrow about letting your parents down. If the same parents call and promise acceptance, isn’t it a dream-come-true?

For a young, educated couple of Alargo, 55km from Bokaro, this became a nightmare, as the husband was beaten to death this morning after a kangaroo court of the Mahto-dominated area decreed he had vitiated the village atmosphere by falling in love.

For mob leader Vaidyanath Mahto, the elder brother of Dumri MLA and JMM strongman Jagannath Mahto, who also happens to be the party’s Lok Sabha nominee for Giridih, the penalty of “love” could only be death.

Last year, Santosh Pandey (27), a science graduate and technically trained youth, fell in love with a girl of the same village. But the orthodox village made a “love marriage” impossible even though both were Brahmins.

So, when Santosh got a job in Chennai four months ago, he decided on a different course of action. A fortnight back, he reached Alargo and then took the girl with him to Chennai where they got married.

Dutifully, both telephoned their respective families about their wedding. The girl’s parents, however, complained about this to the MLA’s brother.

That’s when the diabolical murder plan was hatched. The girl’s parents were asked to go to Chennai in an SUV and sweetly bring back the couple, promising them a grand wedding reception.

With joy and gratitude, Santosh and his bride boarded the SUV from Chennai. The parents of the girl kept up the act well during the long drive. This morning, when they reached Alargo, things changed.

Near Narra jungles in Nawadih, the SUV was stopped and the couple dragged to a jan adalat which issued a “sentence”. Santosh was mercilessly beaten up with sticks. The girl was also beaten.

An unconscious Santosh was dumped by villagers at DVC hospital, Chandrapura, around 10am, where he died after an hour. “Santosh died due to internal injuries he received due to beating,” attending doctor A.K. Srivastav said.

Santosh’s elder brother Vikas lodged a complaint with Nawadih police, naming the kin of the MLA and others.

“The guilty should be punished,” Jagannath Mahto said.

However, the Lok Sabha seat he is eyeing, Giridih, has 34 per cent Mahto votes.

Bokaro SP Jitendra Singh said police would investigate the matter.