It’s been 13 days since the gruesome murder of Sandhya Rani who was set on fire in public in Lalapet, Hyderabad by a deranged stalker. With the death of their youngest family member, the family has lost all hope in humanity and has little expectations from the government and judiciary.
Though the family is still mourning the loss of Sandhya, her brothers are determined to seek justice and approach the National SC/ST Commission. Sandhya belongs to SC Mala community.
The family continues to demand that the government and judiciary should kill the murderer in the same manner. “We don’t need any monetary help from the government. All we demand is his (Karthik’s) death,” Sandhya’s mother Savithri says.
Along with her family—mother, three brothers and two sisters, who haven’t come out of the grief, one more family member who continues to weep and mourn her loss is their dog--Tommy.
Sandhya has three brothers- N Sai Kumar, N Vinod Kumar, N Kiran Kumar and two sisters- K Saritha and N Sujatha.
Striving to get away from the painful memory, the family who were staying at a rented house in Shanti Nagar, Lalapet have decided to relocate to their home in the same area, which is just half a kilometre away.
Sandhya’s eldest brother N Sai Kumar who is busy packing, says, “We are not able to forget her. This home reminds only of her…”
Savithri, who has been left devastated by the death of her youngest daughter says, “We expect nothing from the government, but justice—He too should meet the same fate as my daughter. It was her last wish.”
Sandhya’s sister N Sujatha interrupts, “While going to the hospital and even in the hospital, she (Sandhya) said that Karthik had harassed very badly and that he should also meet the same fate.”
Savithri weeps and says, “My daughter would cry in pain if just a drop of oil would fall on her hands while preparing an omelette. I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for her to suffer serious burns… I don’t know how he (Karthik) could think of setting her on fire.”
Sandhya suffered 64% burns as declared by the Gandhi Hospital, where she was availing treatment.
Savithri says that killing Karthik would deter crimes against women. “I don’t want anything from the government, my only demand is that he should be killed. What is the guarantee that he wouldn’t commit the same crime against other woman who resist him, after coming out of the prison.”
Loss of a father figure
N Vinod Kumar, her brother says, “She was like my father. After my father passed away in 2010. She took care of us by working.”
Sandhya is a college dropout. Their father passed away in 2010, and it was Sandhya who took care of the large family with her earnings.
He breaks down and says, “I was ill for the past eight months. She didn’t allow me to work and took extreme care of me. Since my blood levels were less, she would get me fruits and medicines while returning from work… She was like my father.”
Losing faith in humanity
Another of Sandhya’s brother, Kiran says that he has lost all the faith in humanity post her sister’s death. “Had one of them intervened and stopped that guy when he blocked her on the road and asked why he was harassing my sister on that fateful day, my sister would have been alive today.”
The crowd that had gathered showed extreme insensitivity and allegedly took pictures of Sandhya when she was struggling for her life.
“Everyone was taking pictures when I went there (spot of the incident). I was terrible. I couldn’t see my sister struggling. People were just busy taking photos. In the haste, I forgot to take along the phone. When I asked if someone could help us by calling the ambulance, the crowd told me that they had called them already, Vinod says, adding, “The incident still gives me a nightmare.”
Kiran says that he would approach the National SC/ST commission to treat this as a special case, since it was a pre-planned murder.
On December 21, Sandhya was set ablaze by Sai Karthik, who was previously working in the same store where Sandhya was working as an accountant. Karthik had been harassing Sandhya for the past two years, informed North zone DCP B Sumathi. Sandhya had stated this in her dying declaration.
Sandhya was working at a nearby aluminium retail store- Lucky Traders.
On that fateful day, Karthik intercepted Sandhya while she was returning home and poured petrol on her, which he had concealed in his jacket, setting her ablaze in full public view on the road. Sandhya succumbed the following day to her injuries.