Pune: Unable to marry her lover, 15-year-old sets herself ablaze

She wanted to marry her boyfriend right after Diwali, but her parents asked her to wait till she turned 18; her parents then hid her death from cops

Prajakta Madhukar Shinde was a regular teenage girl, fond of Bollywood films that often depict far-fetched romances with the hero and heroine beating all odds to be united. Her sense of drama and her wish to find a similar fairytale romance, however, finally led to her allegedly committing suicide after her parents forbade her from marrying her considerably older lover.

Prajakta Shinde
Prajakta Shinde

The 15-year-old set herself ablaze, and finally breathed her last in her 23-year-old boyfriend’s arms on Wednesday.
Worried about the stigma from the suicide, neither the girl’s parents, nor the doctor who had examined her, informed the police. Instead, her family performed the last rites for her on the same night, within an hour of her death.

Prajakta was a std IX student at a school in Shindewadi. A case has been registered at the Rajgad police station, and the Pune rural police plan to set up an inquiry to probe whether her death was suicide or murder and why they were not informed about it earlier.

Prajakta’s mother, Sharada told mid-day, “My daughter was an average student at school, and was fond of romantic movies. Six months ago, she had a crush on her classmate and had slashed her wrist. At that time, I hid the details from my husband, but was worried about her. She was very sensitive and anguished. On Tuesday, I found her whispering with my neighbour’s son, Ravi. I immediately confronted her and she spilled the beans and told me that she was in a relationship with him. I informed her father, and the next evening, we called his parents and our relatives to counsel the two of them (Prajakta and Ravi).”

Prajakta’s boyfriend, Ravi Bhegade has an MCom degree and is currently working in the accounts department at a city-based company. “I have known Prajakta for the past two months. She had proposed to me. I promised her that we will tie the knot after she turns 18,” he said.

“On Wednesday evening, her parents called me and my parents to talk about our relationship. Prajakta wanted to marry soon after Diwali, and we all suggested that we should wait till she gains more education and turns 18. When she tried to end her life, both her father and I were trying to save her, but were not able to douse the fire. We splashed water and put blankets on her. Later, she was unconscious in my arms.”

Prajakta’s mother reiterated, “We told our daughter that she was not at an age for marriage, and needed to educate herself first. But Prajakta walked into the kitchen – without our knowledge - and set herself ablaze. She started screaming for help and Ravi and my husband tried their best to save her.”

Senior Inspector Shahji Salve of Rajgad police station said, “Neither Prajakta’s parents nor the doctor who examined her, informed us about the incident. We came to know about it from rumours spread about her mystery death. As per the norms if such an incident takes place, it is the responsibility of the parents, neighbours and the doctor to inform us. Such cases are then handled by us and the doctors who perform the post mortem, after which we conclude whether it is a suicide or murder.”

When mid-day contacted Dr Ashish Kulkarni - who had examined Prajakta - he said, “I was at my clinic when the family approached me. I was asked to examine the girl, but before I could treat her she was dead. I informed the village sarpanch, and told her relatives to inform the police. I rushed back to my clinic, as there was another emergency case. I am not at fault.”

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