20-year-old Salsha discontinued her graduation because her parents had found what seemed like the perfect match for her. Decked up in layers of gold jewellery, she posed for her wedding photos with a happy smile on her face. So what if the groom's family demanded an exorbitant dowry? That's customary, the family believed.
But barely three months later, Salsha is dead. On July 11, she was found hanging in her husband's house in Venjaranmoodu in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram.
Salsha was allegedly harassed for more dowry by her husband Roshan's family, and unable to bear it anymore, she decided to take her own life, according to the police.
Attingal Additional Superintendent of Police Adithya confirmed to TNM that post mortem reports had established that the death was caused by hanging.
Salsha's parents raised suspicions about their daughter's untimely death and alleged that their daughter wouldn't have ended her life if she hadn't been harassed.
The daughter of a gulf-based businessman Shanawas and his wife Saleena, Salsha had dropped her education midway to get married.
Attingal ASP Adithya told TNM that Roshan and his mother have been booked under Section 304 (b) (dowry death).
Roshan and his family had demanded and accepted 1 kilogram of gold, an expensive car and land as dowry at the time of the wedding, say the police.
While one kilogram of gold roughly costs Rs 30 lakh, Roshan was also gifted an Innova Crysta (a car that costs Rs 15- 20 lakhs). The police confirmed that it was a grand wedding in Attingal and more gifts were given apart from the groom's family's demands.
“It was her brother who first complained about it being an alleged case of dowry death. He gave the police a statement. There were no signs of physical abuse. Her parents have alleged that Roshan and his mother made repeated demands for more dowry,” ASP Adithya told TNM.
Salsha’s husband Roshan, also a Gulf-based business man, went into hiding soon after her death. Roshan surrendered to the police after the Kerala High Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea earlier this week. Police say that his mother continues to abscond.
Though it is unclear what Roshan’s version of the story is, many have raised questions about the practice of giving extravagant gifts during the wedding.
During weddings, wealthy and not-so-wealthy parents of young girls, especially in Kerala, follow the ‘custom’ of ‘giving gifts’ to the groom's family. Wedding expenditure in the state is so high that the State Women’s Commission had mooted a guideline to have a cap on such expenditure.
A demand for levying tax of luxury weddings was made in the Kerala Assembly, but Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan turned it down.
The CM said the only way to check such weddings was to generate awareness. Pinarayi acknowledged that luxury weddings have a lot of socio- economic implications and extravaganza by the rich people badly affects the poor who struggle without money to conduct weddings.
Demanding, giving and taking dowry was banned in India in 1961 through the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, but the menace continues.
Last month, TNM had reported about a case from Tamil Nadu, in which the woman, a chartered accountant, died. Divya had come back to her parents multiple times in four years with fresh demands of dowry made by her in-laws. Her parents kept sending her back to her husband, and the young woman was finally found dead on July 17.