Yemmiganur (Kurnool), April 17: A man burnt his wife alive last night because she had grown too fat, after he had for months used her obesity as an excuse to squeeze more dowry out of her father, police said.
Naveen Kumar, a 29-year-old trader, had apparently used Maheswari as his golden goose, wangling an air-conditioner, motorbike and all the furniture at his home out of his father-in-law in the three years since his marriage.
At the same time, he and his family constantly abused Maheswari, 26, who could not stop putting on weight and had grown to 140kg when she was murdered, the police said.
Kumar apparently saw his wifes obesity as a matter of deep shame and had forced her to undergo an abortion for fear that she might deliver an overweight baby. She was not allowed to meet neighbours and relatives, or to step out of home in the daytime.
Officers said Maheswaris father, a municipal councillor, would step in and try to appease his son-in-law with more dowry every time Kumar quarrelled with his wife over her girth.
In her dying declaration from hospital, Maheswari accused her husband, mother-in-law and sister-in-law of dousing her with kerosene, setting her on fire and pushing her into the kitchen at their home in Yemmiganur, 270km southwest of Hyderabad. Circle-inspector Jayachandra Reddy said the statement was given in the presence of local tehsildar Lakshmaiah.
Her relatives today ransacked Kumars home and beat him up. An injured Kumar has been arrested and admitted to hospital while the police are looking for his mother and sister.
Recently, Hyderabad girl Ayesha Siddiqui had accused Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik of marrying and then dumping her because she had grown overweight.
Its not clear if Maheswari had a medical condition that caused her to put on weight, but doctors say that Andhra Pradesh, despite its high poverty levels, leads the country in obesity and diabetes because of the traditional local diet.
A recent survey by the state health and medical department blamed the problem on the intake of high-cholesterol food, such as pickles, biryanis, qurbani meeta, khazas and bandar laddus.
The survey report has advised the state government to stop providing rice at Rs 2 a kg to the poor and, instead, provide nutritious supplements for them and their school-going children.