“It was on July 31, that my husband committed suicide. He hung himself with a rope,” said Nirmal who was walking by my side, her walking stick making a soft noise along the road’s pavement.
Nirmal is almost 35. She lives in Delhi with her 10-year-old daughter and is currently involved in a trial related to her husband’s death.
Sonu Singh was married to Nirmal, and both of them were/are blind. According to the medical reports, a “hundred percent” blind.
They were a happily married couple, with a daughter who could completely see the world through her eyes.
But it was on the dreadful evening of July 31, 2014, that Nirmal’s world was about to change.
“Sonu was in-charge of an organisation called the Deep Blind Welfare Organisation,” said Nirmal.
She stated that a man named Laxmi Narayan, whose son had committed suicide back in 2012, used to run the organisation.
“After his death, Laxmi uncle took care of everything. But as he was old, it was a struggle for him,” added Nirmal.
She further said that Mister Narayan asked Sonu to take charge of the organisation and run it by whatever means possible.
Deep Blind Welfare Organisation is a small hostel for blind people and is run by donations from the public.
Records show that the organisation gets donations of thousands to lakhs, depending on the person.
Nirmal’s husband had been running the organisation since February 2014. In that time he befriended a lot of people, one of whom was Balram*.
Balram helped in hiring a gentleman named Anuj Kumar* to run the organisation smoothly, as it was in disarray.
Anuj is a government servant who works as a Vice-Principal at a government school for girls in Uttam Nagar.
“Anuj is a blind person, as well, and is part of another Blind Organisation,” said Nirmal.
She further said that Anuj joined the organisation on the pretext of helping run it in a trouble-free manner.
“He promised Sonu that he would build a roof for the organisation as there was none. He also said that he would put up a board, bearing Sonu’s name, naming him as the caretaker,” Nirmal said.
She added, “But it was all fake. Neither did he repair the roof, nor did he name Sonu the in-charge of the place, as promised.”
Nirmal claimed that Anuj brought a few people to the organisation, who gave donations after examining its condition.
“The money, which was supposed to be used for the repairing of the organisation, went into Anuj’s pocket,” said Nirmal.
She also alleged that a woman named Meetali*, who was associated with Anuj, became part of the organisation “somehow.”
“When Sonu started protesting against all the things happening, Anuj, Meetali and Balram started threatening him,” she said.
“Meetali, in particular, used to harass Sonu, threatening him by saying that she would ruin his reputation,” alleged Nirmal.
Nirmal also claimed that when she asked Anuj to put up a roof, he blatantly refused.
“Sonu, with another friend, Rahul, who is also one of the accused, decided to take matters into their own hands and put up a board bearing Sonu’s name,” Nirmal said.
“This was when he (Anuj) lost it and started shouting at Sonu,” claimed Nirmal.
“July 13, 2014, was the day he (Anuj) harassed Sonu, who came home really afraid. Sonu told me that his job would be in danger,” said Nirmal.
Nirmal further claimed that her husband told her that he would apologize to Anuj as it was getting unbearable for him to take all the harassment.
“On July 31, 2014, everyone, including, Sonu, Anuj, Meetali and Balram, was present at the association and stayed there till evening,” she said.
The rest, she says, is blurry. She remembers coming home from work and feeling her husband’s leg and realising he was hanging.
“I started shouting and ran out of my house. My neighbour, who had dropped me home, was just about to leave when she heard me shout, and rushed back,” said Nirmal.
“They all said that he was gone, that he was dead,” she said.
Nirmal further claimed, “But that wasn’t the end of my miseries. The real struggle for me was about to start.”
She alleged that Inspector Officer (IO) Ramesh Chand came immediately to the scene and found two suicide notes typed in Braille.
“IO Ramesh took down our statements and was involved in the case from the beginning,” said Nirmal.
Nirmal claimed that the police authorities refused to register the First Information Report (FIR). Only after she wrote a letter to the Joint Commissioner of Police was the case taken seriously and the FIR registered.
When IO Ramesh was asked about the allegations, he said, “I registered a charge sheet immediately and presented it to the court.”
He further said that while the investigation was ongoing, he was transferred to the central district, and had to leave the investigation.
On the other hand, Nirmal claimed that IO Ramesh initially did not file the FIR and tried to interfere with the evidence as well, to which the IO said that all the evidence had been presented to the court, including the two-page suicide notes.
He further said, “The accused, who were named in the suicide notes, got anticipatory bails from the high court. That’s all I know.”
Nirmal, however, said that IO Ramesh has once again been transferred to her case, even though she had written a letter saying she wants a change in the IO.
“The case is going on in Sessions Court, and the Judges will decide accordingly. I have nothing to do with the case anymore,” IO Ramesh said.
“I believe the Court will do justice to my case, but in this whole process I had to face a lot of difficulties, even from the authorities, including the police,” said Nirmal.
“Before this, I couldn’t even think that I would doubt the credibility of the police. Who wants to think that the police may tamper with evidence?” said Nirmal.
Nirmal says that she wants justice for her husband’s death, as he was mentally tortured and thrown out of his job.
“There is no place for a poor person here. I would just like to say that if the rich have the right to everything fancy, then the poor, who are also citizens of this country, should be treated with equal dignity.”
The high court gave anticipatory bails to both Anuj and Meetali. Both have claimed innocence stating that they have humble jobs.
The bail application said that even the suicide note has contradictions regarding the names written on it, stating that Sonu was “depressed” as he was unemployed.
It further stated, “The suicide note clearly suggested that the deceased had invested a large sum of money in the hospital, and had been apprehensive about incurring huge financial losses. In a weak state of mind, he had taken the extreme step of committing suicide.”
Nirmal, on the other hand, claimed that they had no money to invest, and therefore the allegations are untrue.
Nirmal’s case is currently under trial at a sessions court at Tis Hazari. The hearing is on August 21.
The last time I saw her, she looked determined and said, “They thought that I was a weak woman, but being blind and a woman does not make me weak. It makes me want to fight harder.”
She told me that she will keep fighting till her husband gets justice.
I boarded a bus and looked at her crossing a road, with the help of a young man, and I realized that she is a symbol of empowerment, the epitome of an independent woman.
Her fight against the system, against the powerful authorities, combined with her fearless attitude, is setting a precedent for so many women whom society perceives as ‘helpless’.