BENGALURU: As a tearful Devi collapses on the ground, overcome by memories of her daughter, Dharani, she recalls one of the last statements made by her daughter, on the last day of 2018: “Our troubles will end only after we are dead.”Dharani was the 25-year old lawyer who committed suicide on December 31, after she and her family allegedly became the target of relentless harassment meted out by her neighbours, at the behest of a powerful local politician.
Devi recalled their ordeal ever since they moved to Udayanagar, in A Narayanapura ward, around six years ago, adding that her daughter would have been alive if police were proactive. “Apart from being physically assaulted, we were verbally abused regularly, which forced local police officials to deputy constables in front of our house. This drove her to suicide,” Devi said. She also blamed the police for not acting swiftly and transferring her to a hospital in the Hoysala parked right outside their door, even as Dharani was fighting for her life.
“Trouble from our neighbours worsened after my daughter decided to set up a small shop attached to our house. The neighbours, led by one Shashi, said to be a close relative of the corporator, prevented anyone from paying advance to rent out the shop. When a fish vendor finally opened a shop, he was forced to shut in a short time,” she said, adding that they had complained to the authorities multiple times.
Later, Dharani turned it to a tea shop which was run by her mother. This too was objected to by the neighbours. “Shashi used to flash us in public and would force us to shut the shop. Once, he brought some people to the shop and assaulted me and my daughter. While I was bleeding from my forehead, Dharani was kicked in her stomach so badly, it caused her to bleed. She also had a cut on her forearm,” she said. Though a complaint was filed, Shashi and his accomplices were not arrested, according to Devi.
Devi, who was widowed at the age of 17, has two children. Son Hariprasad, who works in a private bank, said that water and electricity supply to their house was cut off, in an attempt to force them to move away. “I think my sister committed suicide because her efforts to ensure justice for the wrongdoings meted out to us fell on deaf ears,” he said.
‘I begged cops to take her to hospital’
Recalling the horrifying hours when Dharani hanged herself, Devi said that women from Shashi’s house had already picked a fight with them during the day, and Dharani had said she was growing tired of it. “She cleaned the shop, turned to me and said that our troubles would end only when we are dead. She then went and hanged herself,” she said.
Devi was quick to bring Dharani down when she was still breathing. “She was battling for life for more than half an hour. When I approached the nearby hospital, they declined to attend to a suicide case, while some cops performed CPR at the house. When I begged police personnel in the Hoysala vehicle to take my daughter to a nearby hospital, they said they were waiting for an ambulance and were busy taking photographs,” an inconsolable Devi said.
Hari said the ambulance that arrived at their residence had neither an oxygen cylinder nor other necessary equipment to treat her. “When we reached Bowring Hospital, the doctor told us that she could have been saved if she had been brought 20-30 minutes early.” Following Dharani’s death, Devi filed a complaint at Mahadevapura police station, accusing her neighbours and local corporator V Suresh.
Abdul Ahad, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Whitefield, said that Dharani was already dead when police arrived. To a question regarding the complaint, he said that three people were arrested, while corporator Suresh was absconding.