Shafiq R Khan


Cuffs on mother after ‘honour’ stench in journalist death

May 3: Nirupama Pathak’s final gamble with her family failed.
Instead of eloping with her former classmate Priyabhanshu Ranjan as they had earlier planned, the Delhi journalist sought one more chance to convince her family that he was the right man for her.
She was found dead at her home in Jharkhand’s Koderma on April 29, allegedly smothered by members of her family opposed to her relationship with a man from a lower caste.
“We had planned to get married and then approach her parents with legal documents in our hands. But she asked me to give her one more chance to convince her parents. And this is what they did to her,” Priyabhanshu said.
The mother of the 23-year-old woman was today arrested and her brothers grilled after the post-mortem report revealed that she had died of strangulation and not electrocution as claimed by the family.
The autopsy report — a copy of which is with The Telegraph — says Nirupama was 12 weeks pregnant.
“(On April 29,) I received a message from Nirupama around 5.40am. She said she would be coming to Delhi soon and that I should be patient…. When I called on her number again a few hours later, a woman who claimed to be her neighbour said she was dead,” said Priyabhanshu, who hails from Bihar.
Koderma superintendent of police G. Kranti Kumar said the post-mortem report had confirmed that Nirupama had been strangled to death. “It’s a murder case. We have arrested the girl’s mother, Subhra Pathak. She was alone at home when the incident occurred.”
Her brothers, who don’t live in Koderma, were released after questioning today. Her father, Dhanmendra Pathak, a manager of Punjab National Bank’s Gonda branch in Uttar Pradesh, was also apparently not at home during the murder.
The police said the mother had earlier claimed that Nirupama was electrocuted while repairing a ceiling fan. “Later, she said she found the girl dead on the bed,” an officer said.
The family had also handed the police a purported suicide note that said nobody was responsible for her death.
Nirupama, a Brahmin, had met Priyabhanshu, a Kayasth, at Delhi’s Indian Institute of Mass Communication.
“They (her family) said her mother had fractured her back as a ruse to get her back in Koderma. I knew they were conservative but could never have imagined that they could murder their own daughter,” said Priyabhanshu, on probation as a reporter with a news agency in Delhi.
A former classmate, Debarati Mukherjee, recalled how inseparable they were on the campus. “One of the most committed couples from our batch,” said Debarati, a journalist based in Calcutta.
She also recalled a letter Nirupama’s father had once written. “He asked her not to forget that they had educated her, brought her up. He also told her that inter-caste marriages never worked,” Debarati said.
Priyabhanshu promised to “fight till the end to get justice for Nirupama”. (the telegraph)

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