On June 14, 2016, two young sisters watched helplessly as their father, along with some relatives, burnt their mother alive inside their home in Uttar Pradesh. They had seen their mother being tortured for years, for not having a son.
Manoj Bansal, 48, was sentenced to life in jail by a court in Bulandshahr on Wednesday. The testimonies of his two daughters nailed his conviction.
Tanya and Latika Bansal, now 18 and 20, say they are relieved that their six-year legal battle ended in punishment for their father.
“My mother was murdered by my father only because she did not give birth to a son. My mother raised us with so much difficulty and that man burnt her alive. For us he is just a demon. After a 6-year fight, his conviction is a relief to us . My sister and I were locked in a room and we were eyewitnesses to how our father and others burnt my mother,” Latika said in a video statement.
Their mother, Anu Bansal, married Manoj Bansal in 2000. After two daughters, she was forced to have five abortions as her husband wanted a son. She was repeatedly tortured by her husband and relatives. On the night she was set on fire, her daughters were locked up in a room. She died of severe burn injuries six days later, on June 20, 2016.
Their grandmother, Anu’s mother, had filed the FIR in the case. Latika had also written to the then UP Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, pleading for justice. Parts of that letter were written in her own blood.
“We did not say anything to him but he taunted us while being led away saying – you must feel nice now,” Latika said on watching her father’s sentencing.
“After a police investigation, the cops dialed down the charge to ‘abetment to suicide’ instead of murder, but we fought this in court and the court restored the murder charge in the case,” Sanjay Sharma, the lawyer for Anu Bansal’s mother and daughters said in a statement.
There are seven other accused in the case, according to the lawyer – all of them relatives of Manoj Bansal.