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A Tale Of Two Women

Posted: January 24, 2014

Around the time India was mourning the Delhi gang-rape victim (December 2012 – January 2013), another sad story was being played out in Delhi and Gujarat, perhaps with equally strong and even more dangerous ramifications than the horrible rape.

Preeti Dhaka, a newly recruited sub-inspector of the Delhi Police returned to Delhi in late December 2012 during street protests against the gang-rape to rejoin duty. She had married Sunil Mund, a Border Security Force officer, in November the same year.

On December 31, 2012, she wrote a letter to her sister, saying, among other things, that her husband had told her that if she were dead he would be free to marry again and that her sister-in-law and mother-in-law were also pressurizing her for dowry. She added that the husband was insistent that he be given a new car apart from the furniture, refrigerator and a flat screen TV that were already given to him as dowry.

In early January 2013 Preeti again took leave to join her husband in Gujarat where he was undergoing training. On January 12, 2013, her body was found hanging from a ceiling fan in her husband’s flat. In a note written prior to her suicide, Preeti wrote that her husband was harassing her for dowry, but that she had never made a formal complaint or reported this to her police colleagues.

Her colleagues in Delhi Police say she never gave them any inkling of the mental torture she was going through. MS Raj, her superior, later said, “Just like any other woman, she had also that tendency not to report things because it may go against her…She may not be accepted in the family.”

Ajay Choudhury, another senior officer later said that sadly, “…you (women) have to behave in a particular manner; you must respect the family into which you are going…Only your dead body should come out of the house in which you have been married.”

In any case, police charged Sunil Mund, his mother and his sister with harassing Ms. Dhaka into killing herself and inflicting cruelty on her. Last heard of, they were awaiting trial.

What revived my memory of this case was the recent suspension of Rishikesh Meena, an IPS officer of the West Bengal cadre, who was accused by his wife Archana (herself an IAS officer) of torture and violence and of threatening to kill their young daughter, all in the name of demanding dowry. Rishikesh Meena has since been suspended, and a police complaint lodged against him.

I really have no comments to offer on the above two narrations, except that if male mindsets are so miserably medieval, nothing might change. Here are two men, one a BSF officer, and another an IPS officer who have shamed themselves and committed crimes not only against women, but against humanity itself.

And here are also two women, one, who could not bear the torture and chose to end her life; and the other who had the guts to stand up against such bestiality. My tribute to both.

My only question is, when will our collective heads hang in shame?


I am a former bureaucrat, and have worked a lot on gender issues, disaster management

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  1. Really sad that a policewoman couldn’t complain against dowry harassment….the fear of being ostracised by society is the main factor for most women…regarding the 2nd case, hats off to the lady for having the guts to go against her “pati parmeshwar”

  2. Really so sad about and as far as I think that If Delhi police will continue to work for the money then it can’t end for ever. In addition, our law is no so powerful that people were horrified, as all of you know that our law on money sells himself. So, how can I accept that we can be better in upcoming day????

  3. Expecting laws or government to eradicate a social problem is hopeless.This problem can only be solved by the civil society. Even if 10% of educated people show empathy and fight for women’s right and take small steps like not criticizing/ostracizing a divorcee woman or rape victim, it would bring about significant changes in society.

  4. I truly appreciate you for taking this up and speaking for the social problem. But I sincerely feel that a lot goes with how parents bring up boys. When a father feels that no one should trouble or harass her daughter, he does not think half so much to give respect to his wife (doesn’t the wife have father who might feel bad about this?). Everything should begin at home. The parents who expect their daughter to be given love and affection by the in-laws and husband, does not treat their son’s wife the same way. Hence the women of another house is always treated unfairly.
    Humans should start letting go off their children after they become adults, be it boy or girl, and not make them dependent or tie them to their aprons, shirts or dhothis…whatever. We can guide them but not cocoon them. They should support us in old age, not because it is their duty, but because they love and care for us. This attitude brings in a lot of personal responsibility than a forced one.
    This is connected to the topic because, when women are stopped seen as secondary to men, and in equal terms, with different capabilities, then there is no issue of taking dowry from them or the privilege that only the sons’ parents should stay with the couple. In western countries, both man and woman earn and support the family. Their elderly parents have money and take care of themselves and the government also supports them.The children born out of them are not liabilities, but are brought up with love.
    If women are contributing through their work (be it as a home maker or an earning member), then why give dowry to husbands. If men feel that the women who are not earning are burdens to them, then why marry them and feed them. Stay without marriage and make cooking arrangements for yourself, appoint someone to wash clothes and maintain the house. They can also be free and the women can also be free. Do not think that, if she is unmarried she is available to you. There are many women who can earn and take care of themselves, and do not need the money provided by the man in the name of husband.
    By reading this do not presume that I am against the institution of marriage. I respect it, but I do not appreciate the way the society is acting as if only women need marriage and they need to pay for the expenses in the arrangement of the same, and the men actually do not need a family. If both need love, warmth, affection and the children born out of it, then it is the need for both and not one of them should pay for it though out their life. Both need to make adjustments and if one should not be separated from the parents then why should the other be. Let both their parents stay with the couple and be taken care, if the outside support system is poor.

  5. Sonali Gangurde -

    We women need to come out of the mindset that marriage is the be-all and end-all in our lives. Broken marriages-whether for dowry or anything else, are NOT a reflection of woman’s incapabilities. Otherwise why would a lady police officer commit suicide?

  6. A pity…seriously one wonders when will this stop? To what extent will we degrade as humans?? 🙁 The two cases presented are particularly shameful considering the backgrounds of the people involved. If a so called educated society does not know how to respect women, how do we even begin to tackle such problems in backward areas??

  7. I’m sorry but I do not agree with your last line. Its no use hanging our collective heads in shame. We need to stand up and hold our heads high in defiance to the age-old injustice carried out against women. Sadly, women themselves instigate such crimes. We need to stand together and support each other not pull each other down.

  8. i wish a day dawns where all women in India enjoy freedom and joy…. how men can be so when they have mothers and daughters and sisters,

  9. I am glad that the second stood up against her husband but the first one. She shouldn’t have killed herself like that. She should have fought, especially since it was the same as the damini case.
    we are in 21 century and I can’t believe that men and women are heartless enough to do this.

  10. Pingback: Obituary of a Nation where crime against women flourishes

  11. Women need to realize their self worth first. If we continue to think that we stand second and therefore rank lower on the family ladder, these will continue to happen. So what if you aren’t accepted into that family or any other family, it will just weed out the useless and give you a new beginning. Women need to start standing up for themselves and stop expecting boys to be raised better or with a chivalrous bone.

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