Gulnaz Khatoon burnt to death by goons, no religious angle but police favouring accused: Fact-finding report of AIMMM’s Bihar Chapter
Following is the fact-finding report by a five-member delegation of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), Bihar Chapter which visited Rasulpur Habib in district Vaishali, Bihar on 18 November 2020 and met her mother, Saimoona Khatoon and other family members of Gulnaz who was burned after the accused poured kerosene over her in a heinous crime.
Gulnaz , aged 20 years, was burnt alive after the accused, Satish Kumar Rai poured kerosene over her after in Rasulpur village on October 30. Satish Kumar Rai had been harassing Gulnaz to make sexual relationship and to marry him, failing which, he had threatened, on 29 October, to kill her. The girl had refused to enter into any physical relationship or interfaith marriage and she informed her mother about his misconduct. To protest the objectionable advances of Satish, Gulnaz’s mother went to his parents’ house, where Satish’s parents assured that they would take care of it so that such incidents are not repeated. Next day, on 30 October 2020, when the victim went to dispose of the garbage outside her house, she was dragged by three persons including the father of the accused, and set on fire after pouring kerosene on her. Villagers and her family members rushed to her rescue on hearing the screams of the girl. She was immediately rushed to Samprabhu Hospital in nearby Hajipur. But as the victim’s condition deteriorated, the Hospital referred the victim to Patna Medical College Hospital in Patna. She succumbed to her massive burns on 15 November 2020. The girl had sustained around 75 per cent burn injuries.
Victim’s father, Mukhtar, had expired a few years ago. Gulnaz used to help her mother in tailoring work to earn a living for the family. Gulnaz was engaged and the marriage ceremony was scheduled to be held in four months.
The victim's mother, Saimoona Khatoon, also alleged that the police delayed in taking action against the accused, who were identified as Satish Kumar Rai, Chandan, and Vinod Rai. She added that, " The accused on Thursday (October 29) threatened to kill her and on the very next day he set her on fire." The victim’s mother cried too much that her eyes got dry and is bravely trying to speak up to seek justice for her daughter. She felt that her daughter was burnt alive for refusing sexual advances and forced marriage by the culprit.
According to the dying declaration (video statement) before her death to the police the victim said, "I was going to throw garbage around 6 pm when Satish Rai, son of Vinay Rai poured kerosene over me and set ablaze.", she told that she was caught by three men. The statement named Satish Rai specifically, who poured the kerosene and set her on fire. The video got viral on the social media.
It was informed to the delegation that inspite of triggering of public uproar from very first day of the incident i.e.on October 30 to her death on November 15, cuprits were not arrested. It was after multiple public protests and media intervention that the police started its action. The Vaishali Police could not arrest the main accused Satish Kumar Rai and he surrendered himself in the Sub Divisional Police office at Mahnar, Vaishali on November 18. A Special Investigating Team (SIT) has been constituted for this case.
It was alleged by the family members of the victim that the accused in connivance with the local police tried to hush-up the matter. On November 2, an FIR no. 308/20 was registered under sections 841/323/307/306 etc. The first arrest in the case was made on November 17 when police arrested one of the co-accused and only after the case was discussed widely on social media. The allegation of inaction by local police is established by the fact that the Superintendent of Police, Vaishali had to suspend the Chandpura Police Outpost in-charge Vishnu Dev Dubey. The family of the victim was under threat to withdraw the case. For their safety a few police personnel were deputed in front of the victim’s house now.
Rasulpur Habib village has a mixed population of mostly Hindus, while Muslims are in minority. The delegation feels that there is no room for any caste or religion angle in it. It is purely a grievous crime committed by the goons.
All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) is an umbrella body of Muslim organizations. It has been advocating for peace, justice and communal harmony since its inception in 1964. The delegation to this team comprised of Dr. Anwarul Hoda, Secretary General of All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat (Bihar Chapter), Zia ul Qamar and Zahid Kareem, both from Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Mohammad Naushad, Advocate of Patna High Court, Shahzad Rasheed, Advocate from Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and Azimuddin Ansari from Peace Foundation.
The delegation makes the following demands for providing justice and preventing such incidents in future:
- Stern punishment should be given to the culprits without much delay.
- The investigation should be transferred to the Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID), as local police was found favoring the culprits.
- A compensation of Rs. 5,00,000 should be granted to the victim’s mother immediately.
- One member of the effected family should be given government employment as they have lost an earning member of their family.
- The affected family should be provided due safety.