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'My In-laws are torturing me for giving birth to a girl'

Baby Afreen in Bangalore, brutalised and battered to death by her father, was not alone in the rejection and atrocities she suffered for being born a girl. A woman in Ambernath has alleged that her husband and in-laws were so infuriated when she delivered a baby girl – who came 15 years after marriage - that they began torturing the mother physically, locking her in a room without electricity and food. 

 
Out on a limb: Seema Karanjule with her daughter Shraddha; (right) Subhash, Seema’s husband. Pics/Navneet Barhate 

Seema Karanjule (34), who was an LIC agent before becoming pregnant, has been complaining (copies of complaint letters with MiD DAY) to the Ambernath police for the past three months that she is being continually abused by her in-laws ever since she gave birth to a girl child. But the police have not taken her plight seriously enough to act on her complaints, she said.

Seema, who lives in Bhindipada, Ambernath with her in-laws, married Subhash Karanjule on May 5, 1996. After a long wait of 15 years, on September 12, 2011, she delivered her firstborn, a girl. Her husband was furious with her. He and the in-laws started abusing, thrashing and harassing the woman, she said. “They asked me how dared I deliver a girl. They wanted a boy,” said Seema. “They disconnected the electricity supply to my room on February 10, 2012, and often lock me in for hours. My baby cries due to the sweaty heat. So I wet a piece of cloth and put it on her forehead to give her some relief.”

No boy, no ration
According to Seema, her in-laws snatched her ration card so she could not get food on her own. Since she quit her job to take care of the baby, she has been wrapping chocolates at her home, earning Rs 1,000 a month. She buys milk for Rs 600, and buys food with the rest. She eats only once a day.

Apart from the police, Seema has also sought help from social workers and the women’s harassment cell. She tried to settle the matter through relatives but the in-laws were adamant, she said. Then she met Shailesh Tiwari, a Youth Congress leader in Kalyan, who advised her to approach the police.

“I suggested her to take legal action against the in-laws. I have arranged for a lawyer for her on an honorary basis,” said Tiwari. Seema sent a legal notice (copy with MiD DAY) to her husband. On February 29, she wrote to the deputy commissioner of police, following which she complained to ACP Mahesh Chimte and the Ambernath police station on April 6. But the police did nothing, she claimed. She also complained to the women’s harassment cell on March 11. “I am running from pillar to post. No one is taking my complaint seriously,” said Seema.

The other side
Seema’s husband Subhash was not available for comment. His mother Janabai admitted that she had cut off the power supply to her room. “Who will pay the bill? She lives separately in a room, so she should pay it herself. We have never tortured her,” she said. Said Sonyabapu Karanjule, Subhash’s cousin, “I am aware of the incident. The in-laws have disconnected the electricity supply. I am trying to settle the matter.” “I received the complaint two days ago. I have forwarded it to the senior inspector of Ambernath police for action. We will look into the matter,” said ACP Mahesh Chimte. 

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