- A woman was seen in footage seemingly being manhandled by her in-laws
- Sindhu Sharma's father-in-law is a retired high court judge
- Ms Sharma's in-laws have denied the charges against them
In impassive, black-and-white footage, the disturbing events unfold inside a living room just like any other. A woman is seemingly manhandled inside her home, dragged off the bed on to the floor and her child, barely old enough to walk straight, totters around trying to protect her. The three apparent aggressors are her husband, mother-in-law and her father-in-law - a retired high court judge.
The woman is 30-year-old Sindhu Sharma who married Nooty Vashisht, the son of a then judge Nooty Ramamohana Rao and his wife Nooty Durga Jayalakshmi. She has filed a case of domestic violence and harassment for dowry against the in-laws.
The incident became public in April when Ms Sharma was admitted to Hyderabad's Apollo Hospital and a case was filed. She named her husband and in-laws, saying she was being subjected to cruelty and torture by them. The shocking CCTV video, that has only emerged now, has provoked outrage.
In the weeks after the incident, Ms Sharma sought custody of her two children, both girls, aged about 4 and 2. The younger one, who was about one-and-a-half years then, was still breastfeeding, and was handed over to the mother on the intervention of activist Achyutha Rao and others. The High Court had to intervene to force the in-laws to hand over the elder girl as well.
Both of them were witness to the assaults on their mother and are seen in the CCTV footage. "They did not want to give the elder daughter as they were worried she would tell what was going on with me," Ms Sharma said.
"I had told the police to examine the DVR (Digital Video Recorder). I remembered the ID and password and accessed this footage," Ms Sharma said. She and her family had not made the CCTV footage public so far reportedly in hopes of a settlement.
"I have two young daughters. Don't they need the father's love too?" said Ms Sharma, who said the trouble had started shortly after marriage in 2012. Her mother-in-law would humiliate her and subject her to physical and mental torture, she alleged.
Nooty Ramamohana Rao served at the Hyderabad and Madras High Courts. While he and his family declined to comment on the allegations, they have countered Ms Sharma's account in an affidavit filed in court.
According to them, on the night of the altercation, Ms Sharma had attempted to kill herself - the second such attempt in six weeks. That is why they pulled and tried to restrain her, they said.
Sources close to the family said Ms Sharma was deliberately screaming for help while hiding a bottle of pesticide or poison in her dress. The family was very worried she would do something to herself and to the two small children, as she had attempted on March 8, sources said.
"She has made serious allegations of dowry harassment and cruelty. Is there a single proof of it or of torture? She made unreasonable demands and wanted us to divide our property and hand it over to her. If things were so bad, why does she still want to live with my son? If we go public and say how she behaved and everything she did, it just becomes it just becomes an ugly media trial," the sources said.