The family of Mandeep Kaur, an Indian woman who died by suicide in New York after detailing abuse by her husband in videos, has said the husband cremated her even as they were trying to claim the body. "I am not satisfied (with Indian government's steps). He performed the last rites secretly," her brother, Sandeep Singh, told NDTV, speaking from the family village in UP's Bijnor.
"I don't know what the authorities are doing there. How can an accused be allowed to do that," he asked, seeking help to prosecute the husband, Ranjodhbeer Singh Sandhu, a trucker in the US who is from a Punjabi-speaking Sikh family in Bijnor. The marriage was arranged by the families in 2015.
Their two daughters — 6 and 4 — remain in the US with the husband, who allegedly abused her for "not giving birth to a son".
The family's claim about "secret cremation" came hours after the Indian foreign ministry said it is in touch with the US authorities and the family. Its tweet did not say anything about a cremation, though.
Mandeep Kaur, 30, died on August 4. A video of her detailing her abuse went viral, in which she says, "It's been eight years. I cannot take daily beatings now... Papa, please forgive me. I am going to die." Then some more videos emerged — which she'd sent to family and friends — showing the husband beating her as the children cry for him to stop.
The cremation claim is backed by The Kaur Movement, a Sikh women's rights organisation that had shared her videos. It said in an Instagram post that the New York authorities have so far not charged the husband with a crime. NDTV does not yet have an independent confirmation from New York.
Two days ago, the family launched an online petition demanding that her body be handed over to her family in India. The petition on 'change.org' also demands that her daughters be protected and their custody be given to the family in India.
Mandeep Kaur's father and brother said they knew of the torture but she had stopped them from pursuing legal action.
The Ministry of External Affairs today said, "Suicide of Mandeep Kaur, Indian living in New York, was very tragic. Our Consulate in New York is in touch with the local authorities, police, family & the Indian community. Our embassy in Washington, DC is in contact with US authorities, who assured us of appropriate action.
It added that the Indian authorities "will keep putting in their efforts for a thorough investigation and give the necessary help to family members". The Indian consulate in New York had earlier put out a tweet promising similar help.
The family members have said they knew that the husband abused her, but "she wanted to give him a chance as she was worried about her two daughters".
Her father, Jaspal Singh, has filed a case of suicide abetment against the husband at the police station here, also naming his parents, who live in a nearby village.