A teenage Hindu girl in the Dumka district of Jharkhand was allegedly set on fire for rejecting a man's advances. While fighting for her life in a hospital for five days, the girl succumbed to her injuries. The Muslim man accused of perpetrating the attack was arrested along with an accomplice. The heinous incident has spiraled into a communal affair as many deem it to be a case of "love jihad."
Ankita Kumari, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, received 95% burns on her body as she was trapped in her room that was set ablaze. The attackers threw petrol and lit matchsticks into her room through an open window. The curtains caught fire. She was admitted to Phulo Jhano Medical and Hospital before being transferred to Ranchi's Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS) for advanced treatment.
The accused, identified as Shahrukh Hussain, and his accomplice, Naeem Khan, attacked the poor girl for rejecting his advances. The accused had threatened the victim before on numerous occasions.
While still alive after the attack, the victim had narrated her ordeal in a viral video. She said in her dying declaration, "I informed my father about this when he came back home at 10 pm. He said that he will look into the matter in the morning. At 4 am in morning, they came, threw petrol, and set me ablaze,"
The victim told the police, "On Tuesday morning, I experienced a sensation of pain on my back and could smell something burning. I found him running away when I opened my eyes. I started screaming in pain and went to my father's room. My parents doused the fire and took me to the hospital,"
A video of the arrest also went viral; the accused, Shahrukh, can be seen smiling casually as he is handcuffed and escorted to the police vehicle.
— Akhilesh Kant Jha (@AkhileshKant) August 28, 2022
The case has caused a communal and political rift. The BJP leaders have severely criticized the state government led by Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and declared the incident as a case of "love jihad," i.e., the conspiracy of Muslims targeting the Hindu community through marriage. The Hindu groups had also targeted a senior police officer, Noor Mustafa, who had allegedly helped the accused.
Hindutva groups such as Karni Sena had called out protests. Hindu right-wing group, The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, issued a statement demanding the death of the Muslim man by hanging.
BJP leaders, Godda MP Nishikant Dubey, northeast Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari, and former Delhi legislator Kapil Mishra had met up with the family of the deceased. They alleged that a case of "love jihad" could only be carried out due to the "severe negligence" and "appeasement politics" of the current ruling state government. They noted that an amount of 2.8 million rupees collected through crowdfunding was donated to the family.
— Ashok Godara (@AshokSiddh14) September 1, 2022
The case has also gained momentum on social media in pro-Hindu groups for allegedly being linked to "love jihad," as many demand justice for the victim.