The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Torture by in-laws blamed for suicide

She spent a happy and meritorious student life — first in Modern High School and then at Shri Shikshayatan College. She scored over 85 per cent in Madhyamaik and over 70 per cent in her Higher Secondary examination. She got married last year and started a new life.

On Wednesday, 22-year-old Chandni lay lifeless in Chittaranjan Hospital, with father Joginder and mother Pawan Agarwal waiting for Thursday morning to collect their daughter’s body and perform the last rites.

Chandni hanged herself at her parent’s Mayfair Road flat late on Tuesday, unable to bear the “physical and mental torture” inflicted on her by her in-laws.

Joginder lodged a complaint with Karaya police station on Wednesday, charging Chandni’s Ludhiana-based in-laws with her “unnatural death”. A police officer at the south Calcutta thana confirmed that a dowry-death case under Section 498 (A) — and several other clauses — had been registered.

“Chandni was married into a business family in Ludhiana last year. Her in-laws placed a long list of demands before us. From furniture to expensive jewellery, we gave everything, except the big premium car they had asked for,” recounted Joginder.

According to his complaint with the police, the in-laws started torturing Chandni, both mentally and physically, since Day One of her marriage to Gaurav Agarwal, owner of a number of shops in Ludhiana.

With Chandni’s parents unable to meet all their dowry demands, her in-laws allegedly sent her back to Calcutta. “They complained that my child was a mental patient,” said Joginder.

Chandni stayed with her parents for over four months before returning to Ludhiana, around two-and-a-half- months ago. During this period, she even lodged a dowry-harassment complaint with Swayam, a city-based NGO.

“After the intervention of some community leaders, her in-laws decided to take her back,” added Joginder. But the torture continued. Vasu, Chandni’s younger brother, went to see her in Ludhiana last month. “I could make out that things were not right and decided to bring her back,” said the engineering student in Bangalore.

Back home, the once-lively girl slipped into a deep depression and was seeing psychiatrist Rina Mukherjee. “She was responding slowly to the treatment, but would get upset at times. It was probably in one of those moments that she decided to take her life,” said Joginder. “We know she won’t ever come back, but we want exemplary punishment for those who pushed her to her death.”

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