Shailendra Mishra and Pushpanjali were thrashed with bricks, stones and iron rods by their relatives and neighbours in Patna’s middle class neighbourhood of Keshavraj ka gali in Khajkalan, locals said.
Pushpanjali’s father Umesh Mishra has been arrested for leading the mob that assaulted them.
While Shailendra succumbed to the beating, Pushpanjali is in a critical condition at the Patna Medical College and Hospital here. Lying in an emergency ward, she showed little sign of life except for her irregular breathing.
The couple was initially declared dead on arrival at the hospital, but doctors managed to revive Pushpanjali after a police official noticed she was breathing, though barely."She may not survive more than a few hours. Her head was smashed and she has suffered internal injuries as well. There is no one to look after her. God alone can save her, it will be a miracle," said a nurse on duty in the emergency ward. Pushpanjali had no one at her bedside to take care of her, having been forsaken by her family for eloping and marrying Shailendra a few weeks ago. Shailendra, who was in his late 30s, and Pushpanjali, in her early 20s, are both Brahmins but belonged to the same gotra. Many orthodox Hindus believe that marrying within a gotra amounts to incest.
The news of their marriage created a furore with Pushpanjali’s family being particularly enraged.The couple, who had been in a relationship for several years, went to Shailendra’s home Friday morning, little knowing the fate that awaited them. Police officials said when Umesh Mishra got to know where the couple was staying, he led a mob comprising his neighbours and relatives and went to Shailendra’s house and dragged them out.
Even as people watched silently, the couple was brutally beaten. However the shocking incident has not affected normal life in Keshavraj ka gali. Some residents in the locality were neither shocked nor apologetic."Why should normal life be affected? They were punished for their act," said Ramesh Prasad, a local resident.However, Prakash Singh, a businessman living in Khajkalan, said: "It was not a right step to beat them to death. It shows how rigid our social set up is and how it is not ready to tolerate such marriages." Atul Singh, a student, said the incident showed that society was not ready to change with the times. "We should raise our voice against such acts," he said.
Ajay Kumar, a social researcher, said the couple should not have returned home. "It was a fatal mistake and they were punished for their decision to go against family and social customs," he said
Umesh Mishra, who admitted to his crime, was arrested and jailed for leading the mob, police said.
"Mishra did not feel he had done anything wrong and justified his action by saying that he had protected Hindu religious tradition because marriage within a gotra is prohibited," said a police official
Police are searching for the other accused in the case, including Pushpanjali’s brothers Vikrant and Prashant and their friend Vijay Yadav All of them were named as accused in the police complaint filed by Shailendra’s brother Amrendra. Twelve unidentified people have also been made accused in the complaint.ik/ur (IANS)