Ankita Singh Indian Hindu teen girl set on fire by Shahrukh Hussain, Muslim man after refusing to convert to Islam and rejecting his marriage proposal.
Singh was rushed to the hospital with severe burns but died Sunday as a result of the heinous attack.
Before she died from her injuries, Singh identified her attacker as local Muslim man, Shahrukh Hussain, telling authorities the man had been following her and harassing her. It is understood the two had at some point being intimately involved only for the teen girl to call things off in recent times.
The case has since led to wide disconcert in India, with debate as to how the girl’s murder could have been allowed to happen and the attitudes towards women in society. The case has also sparked tensions between India’s Muslim population and Hindu’s majority populations.
Meet 17 yr old Hindu girl #AnkitaSingh speak her last words as she lies all burnt & in acute pain,
She is DEAD, just like the collective consciousness of this nation
Your silence today means,it could be your daughter tomorrow pic.twitter.com/4I3S0ovEKs
— Ritu #सत्यसाधक (@RituRathaur) August 28, 2022
‘Marry me, accept Islam, else I will make your life hell,’
Singh described how Hussain called her about 8 p.m. the night before and ‘told me that he would kill me if I did not talk to him.’
‘I informed my father about the threat after which he assured me that he would talk to the man’s family on Tuesday,’ she told police, according to the Mirror.
She then described waking up to ‘a sensation of pain on my back’ and ‘could smell something burning.’ ‘I found [Hussain] running away when I opened my eyes,’ the victim told authorities.
Two videos of Singh in the hospital have since gone viral online (see below), causing uproar in India. Local reports told of the woman incurring burns of up to 90% of her body.
The teen’s father, Sanjeev Singh, confirmed that Hussain lived in their neighborhood. He said the man’s unwanted attention sometimes forced his daughter to miss school.
‘Shahrukh used to tell her— ‘Marry me, accept Islam, else I will make your life hell,’ he told Swarajya magazine.
‘He kept on forcing my daughter to marry and convert for months. He was a one-sided lover, a stalker.’
This is the guy Shahrukh who set Ankita Singh on fire..
Imagine the upbringing n mentality of these people, smiling n posing like he has done some great noble work… pic.twitter.com/UtfjGbEHxd
— Mr Sinha (@MrSinha_) August 28, 2022
Political fissure erupts in divided nation
Police arrested Hussain and an accomplice last week. Both men are reportedly facing murder charges.
Singh’s death sparked outrage across Hindu-majority Jharkhand.
Amber Lakra, the police superintendent of Dumka, told the BBC that while the crime is not considered religious in nature, ‘[police] are being especially vigilant as the boy and girl belong to different religions.’
In the days following Singh’s death, several politicians took to social media to express contempt over Hussain’s actions.
‘After the crafty meted out to Ankita, her death has made every Indian bow their heads in shame,’ Rahul Gandhi, a leader in the Indian National Congress and prominent advocate for women’s rights, tweeted Tuesday.
‘Today there is a dire need to create a safe environment for women in the country.’
Jharkhand girl Ankita Singh, who was poured with petrol and set on fire by neighbour-stalker Shahrukh Hussain, died last night. Her father Sanjeev Singh told me she breathed her last at 2.30 am. #JusticeForAnkitaSingh pic.twitter.com/XKmFqOoFkm
— Rajput’s Of INDIA (@rajput_of_india) August 28, 2022
‘I wish Shahrukh suffers as brutally as he made me suffer!’
Mithilesh Kumar Thakur, a politician in Jharkhand, urged the public not to assign undue blame to the killer’s religion.
‘The criminal has neither any caste nor any religion,’ he tweeted Monday.
‘He is cruel, unrighteous, impure and inferior. The killer of daughter Ankita should be near the noose soon … Our government will make all such legal efforts.’
Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the historically Hindu nationalist arm of the Indian government, met with Singh’s family this week, promising financial support.
But while the government has promised appropriate justice will be served, Singh’s loved ones remain paralyzed by grief.
Described by relatives as caring and a hard worker, Singh was in Class 12 at school at the time of her death.
After losing her mother to cancer a year and a half ago, Singh lived at home with her father, grandparents and younger brother.
‘She wanted to get a government job so that she could help her father support the family,’ her grandmother, Vimla Devi, told BBC Hindi.
‘After her mother’s death, she took good care of her younger brother. She was a very sensitive girl.’
Ongoing incident of violence against women in India
Her family said the teen girl’s last words were ‘I wish Shahrukh suffers as brutally as he made me suffer!’
A rape occurs once every 18 minutes, with more than 28,000 women and girls raped in a single year in India.
The Indian Express earlier this year reported troubling new statistics that nearly one-third of Indian women experienced physical or sexual trauma.
Since 2018, assaults on children under 12 have been punishable by death. Under India’s penal code, the perpetrators in Singh’s case could also face the death penalty.