Nagpur, Feb 10 (IANS) A wave of anguish and anger swept Maharashtra as 24-year old woman college lecturer, Ankita Pissude, who was set ablaze by a stalker seven days ago, succumbed to her burns at a private hospital here on Monday morning.
Tension gripped Daroda village where the incident occurred on February 3 with some angry villagers resorting to pelting stones and police retaliating with a baton charge when the ambulance carrying the victim’s body reached there.
Daroda and Hinganghat town – where jilted suitor Vikesh alias Vicki Nagrale poured petrol on Pissude and set her afire on a road outside her college gates – observed a spontaneous shutdown, while villagers resorted to a road block demanding immediate action against the accused.
As tempers cooled by evening, thousands of grieving villagers joined her funeral procession and her mortal remains were cremated.
Earlier, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray expressed grief over Pissude’s demise and reiterated that the guilty would be given the most stringent punishment.
“We have appointed Ujjwal Nikam as the special public prosecutor, investigations will be speeded up and the case assigned to a fast track court. We will ensure that they are no delays of any kind,” Thackeray told media persons.
The Maharashtra government also plans to study the ‘Disha’ Law of Andhra Pradesh which envisages completion of investigations in a week, a trial in two weeks and where there is sufficient conclusive evidence, reduce the total judgement time to three weeks, said an official.
Pissude, who fought 168 hours for her life, was a post-graduate in Botany and worked as a part-time lecturer at the Matoshree Ashatai Kumawar Mahila Mahavidyalaya.
The accused Nagrale, currently in police custody, is married with a small child and knew the victim as they hailed from the same village.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh described Pissude’s demise as unfortunate and said Pissude’s brother would be given a government job.
“The medical teams tried their best to save her, but could not. The best of doctors from Mumbai and Nagpur attended to her. It is unfortunate that she passed away,” Deshmukh said.
Protestors in Daroda and Hinganghat vociferously demanded a ‘Hyderabad-style’ justice for Nagrale where four gangrape-cum-murder accused were killed in a police encounter when they tried to flee from custody on December 6, 2019.
Pissude had suffered extensive burns on her face, head, respiratory system, heart, she remained critical throughout her treatment and was placed on ventilator since 2 days. Late on Sunday, she became critical with the end finally coming at 6.55 a.m. on Monday after her heart, lungs and kidneys failed, said Orange City Hospital & Research Institute Director Dr. Anup Marar.
Her distraught family and relatives have accepted the body for the last rites even as tearful students across college campuses in the state expressed grief and outrage.
The incident triggered a series of protests, processions, shutdowns, candle-light vigils and prayers while her plight was highlighted twice in Lok Sabha last week.
Pissudde’s demise sparked outrage among state political, academic, social circles with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, MP Supriya Sule, (both NCP) Shiv Sena Deputy Chairperson in the Legislative Council and activist Neelam Gorhe, Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat, Minister Yashomati Thakur, MLA Praniti Shinde, Bharatiya Janata Party state President Chandrakant Patil, Vice-President Chitra Wagh, Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Trupti Desai.
Many other social and youth leaders, NGOs, feminists, activists, teachers, students and commoners demanded the most stringent punishment for the accused in a time-bound manner to serve as a deterrent to potential criminals and those who indulge in atrocities on women.