When Divya, a chartered accountant, married Elan Cheran, a doctor, in 2013, little did she know her fate would be decided over dowry.
Divya and Charan, both from Tamil Nadu, met in 2013. At that time, Charan's parents said they don't care about the dowry. Divya and her parents were elated and excited about the wedding.
As the date of the wedding came close, things changed with the groom's family making unreasonable demands. Even though Divya's family was taken aback, they agreed to the demands made by Charan's family for the sake of their daughter's future.
Premkumar, Divya's brother, said his family gave the groom's family 100 sovereigns of gold, Rs 15 lakh for a car, Rs 30 lakh cash and 5 kg of silver as dowry but "Charan's mother was not happy with it," the News Minute reported.
"The day after the wedding, she took all the gold from Divya and started fighting with her, claiming that we had given two sovereigns of gold less than we promised. She called us, and I immediately went and bought two sovereigns of gold," Premkumar said.
However, even that wasn't enough for Charan's family, who murdered 25-year-old Divya on July 17 after allegedly torturing her for four years.
'We sent her back, didn't know they would kill her'
Premkumar further said Divya had come home crying at least 20 times over the last four years despite her family giving money to her in-laws multiple times.
"We have given them money multiple times in the last four years... Once, we gave Rs 4 lakh, once it was Rs 3 lakh, once it was Rs 50,000. In total, we have given them around Rs 15 to 20 lakh over the years," Premkumar told the News Minute.
"Ten days ago, she came back home, saying her in-laws had now demanded Rs 10 lakh. We sent her back, saying we will try to arrange the money, but we didn't know they would kill her for this," he added.
'Wanted more dowry, so killed her': Father-in-law
Divya's father-law, along with other men named Shivakumar and Senthil, hit her and suffocated her to death using a pillow.
"Around 10.30 pm that night, her mother-in-law called me and asked me to come to their house, saying that Divya is unwell. By the time, I reached their home, they had taken her to a government hospital. When I reached the hospital, I realised she was murdered by her in-laws. She had marks all over her face," Premkumar said adding that he filed a complaint with the Mannargudi Town Police Station.
"During the investigation, we found out that three men, including her father-in-law, had murdered her," a senior police officer from Mannargudi told the News Minute.
"The father-in-law told us during the interrogation that he and his wife wanted to get their son married to another woman, to get more dowry. So, they decided to kill her," inspector of the police station said.
The husband has also been charged with dowry harassment. The police said he was not involved in the murder.
The police have arrested five people — Divya's husband Charan, his parents, and the two men, Shivakumar and Senthil, who assisted in committing the crime. All five accused have been sent to the Tiruchi Central Prison.
A case has been registered under Section 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and Section 302 (Punishment for murder) of the Indian Penal Code.
Several signs ignored
Divya probably would not have died if her family had not ignored her cries and pleas to not send her back to her in-laws.
"Earlier, Divya's family had gone to panchayat with this issue, and both the families had reached a compromise," the police inspector told the News Minute.
Premkumar now feels guilty for having yelled at his sister and asking her to return to her in-laws.
"About a year ago, her mother-in-law had fought with her saying that she did not do household chores properly, and her father-in-law hit her for that. She was scared to go back home, yet, we told her to go back," Premkumar said.
"She had a three-year-old child, and she had to take care of him. I thought, slowly, everything will be fine" he added.