Jharkhand: Stalker Kills Woman For Rejecting Proposal, Latest In Long Line Of Such Killings

A 22-year-old woman was allegedly set ablaze by a man after she rejected his proposal. This is the third such case in recent days from Jharkhand's Dumka.

Rejection Killings

A woman from Jharkhand's Dumka died on Friday after she was set ablaze by a man who had proposed to her. 

After 22-year-old Maruti Kumari rejected the man's marriage proposal, he set her ablaze. She died hours later in a hospital in Jharkhan's capital Ranchi.

The accused man, who was already married, has been arrested, according to the police. 

Kumari's murder closely follows the killing of 19-year-old Ankita Singh of Dumka in August. The accused man had allegedly set her ablaze for rejecting his proposal. 

What we know of Maruti Kumari's case 

The police have said that the accused man has been arrested and Kumari recorder her statement before a magistrate before dying.

"The woman's statement was recorded before a magistrate before her death which will be her dying declaration. A separate FIR is also there," said Dumka Superintendent of Police Amber Lakra.

Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Jarmundi Shivender Thakur told PTI, "A local man, who wanted to marry the victim, had entered her home on Friday morning, poured petrol on her when she was asleep, and set her ablaze. She was rushed to Phulo Jhano Medical College and Hospital by family members, and doctors later referred her to RIMS."

The woman and her parents were not ready for this marriage. Both the victim and the accused knew each other since 2019, added Thakur.

Rejection Killings: Patterned violence against women

The heart-wrenching story of Kumari is not a standalone incident but is rather a part of a systemic and patterned form of violence against women. In fact, Dumka alone has witnessed two such cases in recent past.

In Septembed, a 14-year-old tribal girl was found hanging from a tree. Her mother alleged she was raped and killed.

In August, 19-year-old Ankita Singh died a painful death due to severe burn injuries after her stalker attacked her and set her ablaze after she rejected his marriage proposal.

In a similar incident in Delhi, Rajendra Kaur, a married woman, was attacked by a man with a blade for rejecting his advances, which left her face distorted.

There is no dearth of such outrageous incidents of violence against young girls and women, with another rejection killing reported in Telangana’s Wanaparthi district last month, where a 19-year-old girl was strangled to death. Earlier in May, Noor Banu, a widow, was stabbed by her stalker in broad daylight in a busy Hyderabad locality after she refused to marry him.

Rising trends of crimes against women

There is intersectional nature of violence: to the stalkers, it didn’t matter whether the woman was married, widowed, or a minor, as the shameful glance of toxic masculinity spared none.

What is rather striking further is a structural neglect of such horrific incidents, or worse, the tendency to diminish their severity at the first instance. For instance, Kaur reported her stalker to the police two months before her attack, but the accused was released after a warning. Banu’s children also filed a complaint against their mother’s stalker.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2021 bears testimony to the failure to address this phenomenon. For instance, reported crimes against women in the national capital Delhi went up from 10,093 in 2020 to 14,277 in 2021. The report further highlighted that most women aged 18-30 are ‘vulnerable’ and are targeted by husbands, relatives or friends. High rates of pendency of cases and accessibility to bail in such crimes further complicates matters for women safety in the country.

The long arm of law falling short     

The 2012 Delhi Nirbhaya gangrape case sent shock waves down the system and new sections were added under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 to bring the offences of sexual harrassment, voyeurism, stalking, and acid attack under the ambit of the law based on the recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed Justice JS Verma Committee.

While the new sections entail a three-year jail term for stalking and seven-year jail term for voyeurism, the provision of bail for such offences remains a significant loophole to their full and effective implementation. Furthermore, the enforcement of such laws on a case-to-case basis has been laggardly at best, with the victims caught in a web of stigma and shame which disincentives even the reporting of such crimes.

Sustained reforms required

Ankita's death triggered widespread protest in eastern region of the country. The Jharkhand High Court took cognisance of the incident and summoned the Director General of Police and the Home Secretary in the matter.

Describing her murder as “heart-wrenching,” Chief Minister Hemant Soren said that the perpetrators "should not be forgiven, they should be given the strictest of punishments. Laws should be brought in to further strengthen the existing laws for such incidents". Soren also announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin.

However, beyond such ad-hoc responses to such heinous crimes, the need of the hour is sustained reform in our criminal jurisprudence to set women safety as our national priority.

Strengthening the law to tackle gender violence is a first step but also not a silver bullet. Combining it with improved gender sensitisation amongst the police forces as well as the general public and the political will can foster a preventive and curative strategy to tackle this deep rooted societal issue.


Parallel to this, there is a need to create sufficient infrastructural support with more fast track courts to reduce pendency in such grave matters, that can simultaneously serve as a deterrent.

(With inputs from PTI)