Prema Rajaram  

A 25-year-old woman in Kolkata, Rashika Agarwal, fell to her death at her in-laws’ place in a posh locality last month. Now her family has alleged she was tortured by her husband and others, leading to her death. They have further alleged that the in-laws had taken Rs 7 crore dowry apart from other expenses.

The family now demands justice for Rashika Agarwal and a campaign seeking punishment for the husband and his family has gained momentum in Kolkata.

According to the police complaint, the in-laws had taken dowry worth Rs 7 crore from the Jain family apart from the other expenses and demands that were made by the Agarwal family after the arranged marriage.

Rashika had complained about her husband

Rashika was married to 26-year-old businessman Kushal Agarwal, who is the son of Naresh Agarwal, known to be behind several business ventures across West Bengal, including Bharat Hi-Tech Cement Private Limited. Rashika had told her parents that Kushal was into drugs, alcohol and used to torture her. Rashika’s family has alleged that Kushal’s habits were not known to them before the marriage.

Rashika would also often ask her parents to send her money on several occasions which was demanded by Kushal. When Rashika asked Kushal not to make the demands, he would abuse and torture her.

In November when Rashika’s father was hospitalised, she had stopped telling her parents about the situation at her in-laws’ house as often as she used to earlier.

However, on January 5, 2021, the victim came back to her parents’ house and did not want to go back to her in-laws’ place. Her father-in-law Naresh Agarwal then requested Rashika’s father Mahendra Jain to give the couple a last chance to work at the marriage after which she came back to her matrimonial house on February 13.

‘Papa, don’t miss me’

Her father alleges that three days after that Rashika was forced to jump to death. “My daughter had written a message on WhatsApp to me, my son Rishav, Kushal and Naresh before she died. Her message said, “I tried to live here, but I cannot bear the torture they have done. It is better that I go. Papa don’t miss me.” The message was sent at 2:03 pm.”

Around the same time, Rashika’s mother Sangita Jain received a call from Neelam Agarwal, Rashika’s mother-in-law saying her daughter had jumped from the rooftop on the third floor and that she had been rushed to a private hospital.

Rashika passed away on the same day at 9:35 pm. The doctors told Rashika’s father that she had injuries all over her body due to the impact of the fall which led to internal bleeding. Despite her family arranging for blood, Rashika did not survive.

“When I reached the hospital, Neelam and Kushal were present and Naresh was in Delhi. They had arrived at the hospital before we did. We are still unclear whether Kushal was at home when she fell from the rooftop,” added Mahendra Jain.

“I did not speak much to Rashika’s in-laws as we were arranging for blood and speaking to the doctors to save Rashika. Her in-laws were sitting at the reception. Kushal was sitting in the car and did not help at all,” Rashika’s father added.

Naresh Agarwal had reached the hospital at 8:30 pm and was with Rashika’s parents and brother till 10:00 pm after Rashika passed away. The families then went to their respective houses.

Rashika’s family files complaint

Rashika’s father filed a police complaint on February 17 saying she was tortured by her husband and in-laws which led to the death. Elaborate details were given on February 25 to the police by her family to substantiate their complaint.

“On February 17, we were busy cremating Rashika’s body and her in-laws also participated in the last rites. After that, on February 19, Kushal’s brother Bishnu Agarwal who stays in Ranchi came to meet us and threatened us saying he would have silenced us if we were in Ranchi. He asked what did we want to prove by filing a police complaint,” Rashika’s father said.

Rashika’s father verbally informed the Alipore Police Station about the threat. “Police had come to meet me a week after that on Saturday. The case was transferred to the Kolkata Police women’s grievance cell on February 27, which comes under the Detective Department,” said Jain.

The police have not yet quizzed Naresh Agarwal, Neelam Agarwal or Kushal Agarwal. The police have told Rashika’s parents that the Agarwal family is absconding, but Mahendra Jain believes the family is at their house. The media has tried to speak to the Agarwal family, but there has been no response.

“I think the family is at their house itself and I don’t know why the police are not able to question them. They are influential people and anything is possible,” Rashika’s father said.

#JusticeForRashika Campaign

Rashika’s family has now started an online campaign #JusticeForRashika on social media to demand justice for the 25-year-old woman.

As per her family, Rashika was known to be a good student and had studied at Mahadevi Birla School in Kolkata and went on to pursue Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) at St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata. For her higher studies, Rashika went to National University of Singapore for her Business Management degree. Rashika came back to India in 2019 and was working with her father in his transport business, Nirwan Logistics.

Her friends from Kolkata and Singapore initiated a #JusticeForRashika social media campaign on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on February 28. The campaign seeks to know what led to Rashika’s death.