Bedridden grandmother saw flames, could do little for girl
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There's an uneasy calm in the small cluster of 40 houses belonging to Balmiki community at Sacchakhera village of Narwana in Jind district, Haryana. The residents are in a state of shock and anger. A 16-year-old girl, Sharmila, belonging to the community, immolated herself after she was allegedly gangraped by neighbours on Saturday.
Sharmila and her family lived in a two-room kuccha house on the outskirts of the village. Her family consists of parents Balraj (45) and Rajkali, grandparents, and seven siblings.
Balraj, Rajkali, their elder son Mintu (20) and daughter Mamta (18) are the four earning members of the family, who work as labourers in fields and manage to earn Rs 100-150 per person daily. Sharmila used to take care of her grandparents Ramchander and Dhanpati, and her four siblings — Kalu (14), Poonam (13), Anjali (8) and Sahil (6) — who are studying at a local school.
Sharmila's grandmother, Dhanpati, who is bed-ridden due to a fractured leg, said: "Sharmila told me that she was going to buy groceries. She did not return for long, and I was worried. All of a sudden, I heard her screams. I could see flames across the wall, but could not get up. I shouted for help, but failed to do anything. She had gone next door to my other son's house, poured kerosene and set herself afire. My other son's family members also work as labourers and were not at home."
"We work as labourers. Sharmila used to take care of us. She used to take care of her brothers and sisters like a mother. Whenever my other children used to come home from school, she was there to serve them food. She was there to take care of my ailing parents. These people have snatched her away from me. God must punish them with death," Balraj said after her cremation.
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