The expiry of 25-year-old woman lecturer while undergoing treatment at a hospital in the city has raised queries about woman security in the State. The woman Ankita Pisudde, resident of Hinganghat town in Wardha was in a critical condition after sustaining 35 to 40 per cent “grade III” burns on February 3 when she was set on fire allegedly by one Vikesh Nagrale while she was on way to her college. She was undergoing treatment at the Orange City Hospital & Research Centre located around 75 km from Wardha.
Senior Advocate Abha Singh said, “According to me, violent crimes against women are on the rise as no one fears the law and also, there is poor conviction rate. The criminal don’t know that breaking the law can have a strong repercussion that is why now people are emboldened in such acts. Also in India, if a woman says no to his advances then the man is not ready to accept it and is ready to kill her.”
When asked whether she( Ankita Pisudde) will get justice, she said, “She will get justice but final punishment will be decided at a later date because of poor conviction rate.”
“Doctors at the hospital declared her dead at 6.55 am today,” Hinganghat’s police inspector Satyaveer Bandiwar said. The woman sustained deep burn injuries on scalp, face, right upper limb, left hand, upper back, neck and eyes along with severe inhalational injuries, the hospital said in a medical bulletin on Monday. She died of septicemic shock after suffering from deep dermal burns along with severe inhalational injuries, respiratory distress and related complications.
Activist Trupti Desai said, “I think the government should follow the rule introduced by the Andhra Pradesh government apropos the Disha bill and the accused will get punishment within 6 months. Then only will the justice be served.”
Around 4 am on Monday, her oxygen levels fell down in spite of having a ventilator support coupled with decreasing urine output and reduction in blood pressure, the hospital said. As part of immediate resuscitation measures, medicines were escalated to maintain the blood pressure and all feasible steps were taken to improve the oxygen levels in the blood but the patient remained “extremely critical”, it said. “Around 6.30 am, she had bradycardia and in spite of prolonged cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the patient could not be revived and was declared dead at 6.55 am,” it said. The victim a postgraduate in Botany was completing her B Ed degree.
Advocate Vibin Nair said, “It is very disturbing to hear what happened with the young lecturer. My prayers are with her family. The law will take its own course on the perpetrator. A fast track court must be set-up immediately and the perpetrator should be brought to justice to the woman at the earliest. It can be easily said that the remedy of bail although available won’t be of much help to the perpetrator. Capital punishment will also be looked upon by the Hon’ble Court as the act will fall under the rarest of rare criminal acts.”
During her treatment, she underwent tracheostomy (creating an opening in neck to place a tube into the windpipe to allow air to enter the lungs), burn dressings, debridement and escharotomies, the hospital informed. Debridement is a medical procedure to remove dead, damaged or infected tissues while escharotomy is a surgical procedure used to treat full-thickness (third-degree) circumferential burns. The doctors had earlier stated that oxygen level in her blood had decreased alarmingly. The blood pressure too was fluctuating drastically.
Advocate Asim Sarode said, “We always see justice in the form of punishment and that become very incident centric if we talk about justice. Overall, we should consider that there are some problems in the system that we need to cure. And talking about the justice then definitely the accused will get punishment but we cannot decide the time period because the court has to follow the process.”
The woman’s parents and uncle were kept informed about her deteriorating health condition and death, the hospital said, adding that the body was later handed over to police for postmortem and other formalities. After the woman’s condition deteriorated, the hospital informed about her critical status to Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, Wardha Guardian Minister Sunil Kedar, Nagpur Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Kumar, Police Commissioner Bhushan Kumar Upadhyay, Wardha Collector Vivek Bhimanwar and Wardha Superintendent of Police Basavraj Teli.
According to the police report, the accused poured petrol on the woman’s face and set her on fire. However, a passerby doused the fire and rushed the woman to a nearby hospital. Nagrale, who was arrested soon after the incident, and the woman were friends till two years ago when she severed ties with him due to his “irrational behaviour”. After not getting any response from her, Nagrale committed the crime in a fit of rage. Nagrale is a married man and has a seven-month-old son. He works in a private firm at Balharshah. He had even tried to commit suicide last year.
According to the deceased cousin Shubham Pisudde, Nagrale had been harassing her for the last many years despite repeated warnings. Her marriage (engagement) was broken last year due to Nagrale.
Around 7,000 people, including members of political parties, women and college students, marched from Nanduri Chowk to Ambedkar Square in Wardha town, demanding a fast- tracked trial and death penalty for the accused. A few demonstrators also demanded that the accused be “handed over to the public for ten minutes”. Residents of Hinganghat town and neighbouring areas also called for a shut-down.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked the police to ensure that the accused was convicted. Thackeray took a serious note of the incident, a statement from his office said, adding that expenses of the woman’s treatment would be borne from the Chief Minister’s Medical Assistance Fund. The Maharashtra State Commission for Women on directed the Wardha Superintendent of Police to submit a report on the incident.
The state government on Tuesday flew Navi Mumbai-based National Burns Centre director Sunil Keswani to Nagpur to supervise the woman’s treatment.
The accused has been booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 326-A (voluntarily causing grievous hurt by use of acid, etc) and sent in police custody.
Leaders expressed their grief over this incident
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, “The incident is so barbaric that words are not enough to describe it. I will plead to everyone to have patience. The suspects will be punished soon. This government will take strict action.”
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said, “I have spoken to the public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam to ensure that the verdict is out at the earliest and the victim is given justice. We will provide assistance to the family in every possible way and one of the family members will be provided a government job.”
NCP leader Supriya Sule said, “Saddened to hear that the Hinganghat victim lost her life earlier this morning. This case will be heard in Fast Track Court and State Government will ensure that justice is done. My heartfelt condolences with her family. May she rest in peace.”
State Housing Minister Dr Jitendra Awhad said, “This incident is an insult to the progressive state of Maharashtra. Injustice has been meted against the victim in a state where Jijamata, Ramabai were born. This not a defeat of woman but the defeat of culture and tradition of Maharashtra.”
Maharashtra Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil said, “Citizens are venting their anger over the shocking incident happened in Hinganghat. The government and judiciary will take strict action against the accused. People should remain calm and cooperate with the government.”
Maharashtra Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde said, “Cruelty has no place in Maharashtra. The government is working towards providing justice to the victim and her family. Through this incident we need to think about where progressive Maharashtra is heading.”