Gender

Woman Set on Fire by Stalker in Secunderabad, Dies

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Stories of women being harassed or killed for turning down proposals from men are becoming more and more common.

Credit: Twitter/ANi

New Delhi: Stalkers continue to have a free run four years after stalking was made a criminal offence. The latest victim of stalking is a 25-year-old woman, who was allegedly set ablaze last evening in full public view in Telangana’s Secunderabad by a man suspected to be her lover. The victim died this morning, said the police.

The woman, identified as Sandhya Rani, worked as a receptionist at an aluminium fabrication unit. She died at around 7:30 am while undergoing treatment at Gandhi Hospital in Secunderabad, deputy commissioner of police (north zone) B. Sumathi said.

As per preliminary investigation, the 28-year-old man, identified as Karthik, called her last evening to the Lalaguda area, located about 10 km from here. After she reached the spot, the man poured kerosene on her and set her on fire before fleeing the spot. Hearing her cries, some passersby rushed and put out the fire.

“Upset with his constant calls, Sandhya recently blocked his number and stopped talking to him. This infuriated Karthik who had earlier threatened her of dire consequences. She informed some senior colleagues including the unit owner D. Jagan Reddy who spoke with Karthik and warned him not to harass and stalk her. On Thursday, Karthik again tried to talk to her when she came out of office in the evening. When she declined, he immediately took out a bottle of petrol and threw on her and set on fire. She suffered 64% burns. She was rescued and shifted to hospital,” Sumathi told the Indian Express.

D. Savitri, mother of Sandhya, told the Indian Express that she never confided to her about Karthik and his threats and harassment. “If we had known we would have taken precautions and informed police also. She didn’t say anything to us,’’ Savitri said.

According to the Indian Express report, a case has been registered against Karthik at the Lalaguda police station under Sections of IPC 302, 354, 354 D, and SC/ST Atrocities Act as Sandhya belonged to the Mala community.

Stories of women being harassed or killed for turning down proposals from men are becoming more and more common. On November 13 this year, a man set a woman ablaze in Chennai after she refused her proposal. In May, a 24-year-old woman was shot dead by a man in Delhi after she refused his marriage proposal. In another horrific incident in September 2016, a 21-year-old woman was killed after a 34-year-old man who had been stalking her for more than a year stabbed her at least 22 times with a pair of scissors.

Varnika Kundu, the 29-year-old daughter of an IAS officer, allegedly stalked in August this year by the son of an influential politician in Chandigarh, said, “Stalking is rather a precursor to much more serious crime.”

In a bid to widen the scope of sexual violence against women, the parliament in 2013 made stalking – physical or electronic via phone calls, text messages or emails – a criminal offence punishable with one to three years in jail. The amended IPC Section 354D said, “Whoever monitors the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication that results in a fear of violence, or interferes with the mental peace of such person, commits the offence of stalking.”

(With PTI inputs)

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