Kolkata: She survived two gang-rapes on consecutive days in October. On Tuesday, the 16-year-old died of serious burns in a hospital in Kolkata. She was pregnant, said police.
Today, for the first time, the Kolkata Police revealed that the third-degree burns that killed her were the result not of a suicide attempt but of murder by two men allegedly known to the gang that had raped her.
This was what the school-girl's broken and furious father alleged in a meeting on Wednesday evening with West Bengal's governor, MK Narayanan. "She was burnt so she could not give her statement in court, so the case against her rapists collapses," said her father.
The admission by the police today places Mamata Banerjee's government in a new controversy, not only because of the teen's horrific ordeal, but because of an ugly attempt by the police to force a cremation for her sooner than her family wanted - an attempt, the opposition Left says, to bury the truth that the girl, twice sexually assaulted, was given no security, which led to her murder.
On Tuesday afternoon, the teen died. Her father, a taxi driver originally from Bihar, is a loyalist of the Left's trade union, CITU, which wanted to organise a public funeral procession.
In a grotesque attempt to stymie that, police tried to hijack the body and organize a hasty cremation. The girl's father however avoided that by refusing to hand over her death certificate.
She was finally cremated on Wednesday evening.
In October, she was gang-raped in the town of Madhyamgram, a 90-minute drive from Kolkata. The next day, she was gang-raped again, allegedly by the same group of six men to punish her for filing a police case.
On December 23, the 16-year-old was set on fire in her house. The police today revealed that before she died, in a statement on December 26 given to investigating officers, she said that two men had poured kerosene and set her alight. The men had been arrested on December 24 on the basis of a First Information Report filed by her father.
The police and the government will now have to explain why this information was not disclosed. The case of rape has now been converted into one of murder.