"Her eyes were closed, head was slightly tilted, her fingers and toes were twisted and there were bruises all over her body. She neither moved, nor spoke to us."
This is how Rahmathullah, a native of Puttagula village in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district, described the condition of his daughter, when she was brought home a few months ago.
Rahmathullah alleges that his daughter was harassed physically and mentally for close to three years for dowry. 24-year-old Tasleem got married four years ago, on October 20, 2014 and the groom was Rahmathullah's own sister's son, who was working as an accountant in Bengaluru.
"My daughter didn't tell me anything. She bore all that torture. I wish she had told me, so that things would not have come to the situation that we are at today," he says, his voice choking.
Rahmathullah says the first time they asked for money, he had said that he didn't have much to offer to them.
"There was one acre of agricultural land in my wife's name and they started asking us to write it off to them. When I refused, they asked for Rs 1.5 lakh. I explained to them that my financial condition was not good; they asked me to give them the money when I could. This took place within six months of the marriage," Rahmathullah narrates.
After one year of the marriage, a baby boy was born, but the alleged torture only continued, Rahmathullah claims.
"Even after the boy was born, they asked me for lot of money. Since I'm also responsible for my grandchild, I didn't say anything that time. When he was around two months old, the boy's family threatened to snatch the baby away from her because I had not paid the Rs 1.5 lakh," Rahmathullah alleges.
"I felt insulted, so I mortgaged my house in Puttagula village and got Rs 4 lakh and paid them the money. After that, I thought things would go smoothly, but she was apparently going through torture at her in-laws’ hands. They were beating her as well," he alleged.
Things took a turn for the worse when the couple visited the boy's grandparents' house in the same village for Bakrid in September last year.
"Two or three days after they reached, I said that I wanted my daughter to come and meet me at least for one meal. They kept refusing. One day, when I went to their house, I found her hanging and immediately pulled her down. They are claiming that she attempted suicide, but I don't believe it at all. They are the ones who tried to kill her," Rahmathullah alleges.
Following this, a panchayat was held in the village and local elders said that since medical treatment for the girl was a priority, they asked the two families to take her to Bengaluru for the same.
Realising that his daughter could narrate what exactly happened if she availed treatment and could speak again, Rahmathullah agreed and did not file a police complaint.
Following this, both families took her to a private hospital in Bengaluru before bringing her back to her in-laws place.
"When we were taking care of her in Bengaluru, after six months, my wife had some medical ailment, so we had to return leaving my mother to care of her," Rahmathullah says.
Within one week, Rahmathullah alleges that the husband’s family attempted to kill his daughter yet again, and they found her with bruises on their return.
"Fearing for her life, I brought her home and since the last five months, she has been availing treatment at home after we made arrangements," Rahmathullah says.
Every morning, Tasleem's parents now feed her various fluids through a tube, as there is no other way that she can ingest anything.
"She is improving but she has become frail and skinny. We give her oil massages as well. She was much worse when she first came home. I still believe my daughter will get better and she will open her mouth and speak soon," Rahmathullah says, as he breaks down.
"It has even been a month since I filed a complaint at the Kadri town police station, but police are yet to file a case. They are instead asking me to settle the case. I am demanding that those who brought my daughter to this situation should be put behind bars," he adds.
Rahmathullah hopes that media coverage will help them in getting a case registered.
"I went and spoke to the local sub inspector, but he seemed reluctant to register a case. He instead said that the boy's family offered Rs 2 lakh to 'settle' the case and asked me to take the deal," Rahmathullah alleges.
However, when TNM contacted the local SI, he said that he could not recollect the case as he dealt with many cases on an everyday basis.
"You ask that person to come meet me and then maybe I can comment. Usually before registering a case, there is counseling involved. So I do not know the status of the case you're referring to," he said.
Circle Inspector K Gorantla Madhav said he had not received any complaint. “I have not received any information about the case as of now but if the family comes and meets me once, I will definitely look into the incident and find out what happened."