The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dowry death verdict nails spouse, in-laws

Krishnagar, June 21: Monorama wiped silent tears with the corner of her white sari as the judge read out the verdict: 10-year jail terms for Sitangshu Debnath, his father Gour, who died while the case was on, mother Usha and brother Gobinda.

It’s been five years since Monorama’s daughter Rupali, who was married to Sitangshu in December 1997, was burnt to death over dowry demands. “The judgment will not bring my daughter back, but god did not spare them too. At least this will put my daughter’s soul at rest,” the 60-year-old widow said.

The case of dowry death was started in 1998 when Monorama filed an FIR after her daughter died of severe burn injuries on February 10 that year.

When the hearing began, the court recorded the statements of Rupali’s neighbours and some of them said they saw the young woman being brutally tortured by her in-laws. “One of them even said that he saw Rupali being kicked and hurt by sharp weapons on the day before she was burnt,” said public prosecutor Sadhan Mandal.

“On February 10, 1998, my daughter’s father-in-law, Gour Debnath, informed me that my daughter was seriously ill. I went to their house at once and found my daughter lying half-dead with serious burn injuries. She was sent to the Saktinagar hospital, but she died on the way,” a tearful Manorama said.

Monorama could never have imagined her daughter’s end when she was married to Sitangshu, who stayed at Jamsherpur near her house at Patabuka under the same Karimpur police station.

“The marriage went through without much complication and even her in-laws did not make any demands. They had demanded money when the negotiations were on. But when I conveyed my inability to pay as I was a widow, they agreed. It seemed like they had realised my situation, but it was a false notion as the tyranny began from the very first day my daughter stepped into her in-laws’ house,” recounted Manorama.

“Soon after the marriage, her husband and in-laws started physical and mental torture on Rupali. They then realised that just pressure would not work,” she said.

The mental torture and occasional beatings turned worse as time progressed. All the family members, including the husband, went on the offensive, Monorama said, adding that they even employed some local people to torture Rupali.

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