Her husband, Suprabhat Dey, was an alcoholic and always demanded money to buy himself drinks. But in all the four years of their marriage, she never refused him in spite of the provocation.
Till last week, when Meena, the 28-year-old housewife, finally decided to stand up to Suprabhat. On that day, she was compelled to attempt suicide by setting herself on fire.
When Meena denied her husband cash, he beat her up. Humiliated, she drenched herself with kerosene. Suprabhat taunted her and called her names and threw a box of matches before her. When she threatened to set herself on fire, he dared her to go ahead and kill herself.
Without a word, she simply picked up the matchbox and set herself on fire. This happened a week ago, last Wednesday.
Residents of the Muchipara police station area in central Calcutta, where the couple lived, on hearing her desperate screams, rushed to their house in Noor Mohammad Lane and took her to hospital. But she had already suffered 90 per cent burns. Her husband had escaped.
Suprabhat, a local trader, was arrested late on Tuesday night after investigating police officers reconstructed the incident on the basis of Meena’s statement and charged him with abetment to commit suicide. The husband was interrogated all night. Thereafter, he broke down and confessed to the crime.
Timir Bhattacharya, officer-in-charge of Muchipara police station, said on Wednesday: “The husband had been absconding for the past few days but we finally nabbed him yesterday during a late-night raid. Dey admitted that he was an alcoholic and even confessed that he used to turn violent whenever his wife refused to give him cash to buy liquor.”
Meena was Dey’s second wife. “He had an affair with Meena and married her four years ago, after his first wife left him, probably for a better man. They have been living in the Muchipara area for the past two years,” added Bhattacharya.
“Dey regularly went for drinking bouts with his friends. Meena was well aware of her husband’s weakness for liquor. She would never protest, although she was beaten up several times in the past by her drunken husband. But she decided on that fateful night that enough was enough,” Bhattacharya said.
“The woman is still in a critical condition. She is not in a position to make any statement. We have arrested Dey on the basis of the complaint lodged by the woman’s relatives,” said the Muchipara officer-in-charge.