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Mystery shrouds 11-yr-old’s self-immolation

An 11-year-old girl died of burns after setting herself on fire in Jamshedpur on Monday morning, the death baffling her family and police alike because there was no apparent reason for her to take the extreme step.

Basanti Gorai, a resident of Birsanagar Zone No. 3, had also apparently made strange statements while being rushed to hospital, claiming that an elderly woman had approached her, asking her to set herself ablaze.

The minor, who used to study at a local government school but dropped out after passing Class V last year, allegedly set herself on fire after pouring kerosene around 8am when no one, except her sister-in-law Pratibha, was at the house. Her cries alerted Pratibha, who rushed in to find her aflame in a room.

Pratibha, unable to douse the flames on her own, screamed for help. Neighbours rushed in, but by that time, Basanti had been badly burnt and writhing on the floor.

They rushed her to MGM Medical College and Hospital, where she was admitted to the burns care unit, but succumbed at 3pm. The attending doctor said that Basanti had sustained 90 per cent burns.

Rajesh Gorai, the girl’s elder brother, said she spoke to her family members till 10am, after which she felt silent.

“We really don’t know why Basanti immolated herself. There was no one in the room when she set herself on fire. My mother Bisakha and I were out, while my wife, Pratibha, was busy with household chores,” Rajesh, who works at a crusher unit in Telco, told The Telegraph.

He further said that Basanti told strange things to her sister-in-law while being rescued. “Basanti said that an old woman had come near our house, who asked her to set herself on fire and then speak to her. She did not understand what was happening and on the spur of the moment, poured kerosene oil on her and lit a matchstick,” Rajesh said.

The girl was shouting about the lady even while undergoing treatment.

However, police said that Rajesh had told them it might have been an accident.

“I had gone to take the girl’s statement around 10.30am, but she was not in a condition to speak. But I spoke to her brother, who claimed that Basanti might have caught fire while cooking,” assistant sub-inspector of police B. Mahto told The Telegraph.

But Mahto pointed out that it did not appear to be an accident, as a person cannot sustain 90 per cent burns while cooking. “Moreover, we cannot overlook the fact that the girl’s sister-in-law was also at home at the time of the incident,” said the police officer.

The body has been sent to MGM Medical College’s mortuary for post-mortem.


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