Hyderabad: A chilling video, which has been released by the daughter-in law of a former Hyderabad High Court judge and alleging domestic violence, shows a woman being attacked by a man and an elderly couple. The man, presumably her husband, hits her, holds her by the collar, pushes her to a couch, and later drags her on the floor. Amid this commotion, two toddlers try desperately to rescue their mother.
These horrifying visuals are part of a CCTV video grab put out late on Thursday by 30-year old Sindhu Sharma in an ongoing case of dowry harassment against her husband and in-laws.
#NewsAlert – A former Judge of the Hyderabad and Madras High Court has been booked by the police for allegedly assaulting his daughter-in-law allegedly over dowry. | @RishikaSadam with details. pic.twitter.com/1rrpVN7at8— News18 (@CNNnews18) September 20, 2019
Sharma in April had approached the Central Crime Station in Hyderabad, claiming that Justice Nooty Ramamohana Rao, his wife Nooty Durga Jaya Laxmi, and their son and her husband Nooty Vasista, have been repeatedly harassing her for the past four years over dowry.
Ramamohana Rao was a senior judge in the Hyderabad High Court, retiring in August 2017 while serving at the Madras High Court. He was transferred from the Hyderabad High Court in 2016.
Back in April, Sindhu had managed to get out of the house and file a complaint. She had also protested in front of their residence, demanding that the kids be handed over to her. A habeas corpus petition helped her gain custody of the children.
However, the dowry harassment case took another turn after Sharma released the CCTV footage.
“It is a nightmare I can never forget. These videos are from April before I managed to get out of the house. They hit me in places I cannot tell you,” Sharma told News18 as she recollected the horror that followed.
According to the victim, her in-laws, husband and the kids went to a movie, while she was left at home. When they got back, her husband started physically attacking her due to his frustration at not having been promoted at work.
“I was sleeping in my room. He barged in and started attacking me. All this – for him not being promoted at work. What do I have to do with his promotion? My mother-in law was instigating him,” said Sharma.
What followed next was extremely brutal. The group can be seen getting down a flight of stairs with Sharma the last one, looking quite disturbed, both mentally and physically. The time frame in the video shows 23:30 pm, April 20. The elderly couple and the man, who all appear quite agitated, can be seen arguing with Sharma as a television runs in the background.
As Sharma tries to reach the main door to escape, her husband holds her and hits her.
As the altercation continues, Sharma again tries to get to the main door. She is dragged and pushed on to the couch. At this point, an old man in the video (allegedly her father-in law) pushes her on to the couch and holds her firm, while trying to explain something.
Another lady in the video, who is holding Sharma, tries to stop her from reaching the main gate. According to the victim, the lady is the domestic help.
In due process, Sharma is dragged on the floor, heckled and pushed away from the main door. All this happens while her children, aged four and two, watch on in shock. At one point, the four-year old comes to rescue her mother but is taken away by the father.
“I was screaming for help. My older one’s name is Pandu, so I screamed her name asking her to help me. She was sleeping and woke up and came into the hall. But you can see -- they took her away. The three of them (father-in-law, mother-in-law, husband) ganged up against me and attacked me,” narrated Sharma.
According to her maternal family, the harassment on the pretext of additional dowry started in 2012 after the wedding. However, it intensified in the last two years when they started harassing her physically.
Towards the end of the video, a distorted Sharma is made to forcefully sit in a car. The toddlers can be seen running for their mother; the younger one, who can barely walk, is seen sliding through the steps to reach her.
Sharma said she was taken to a private hospital next as her in-laws wanted to get her sedated. However, the doctor refused to do so and helped her get in touch with her parents.
As per a medical case registered by Apollo Hospital that night, Sharma had scratches over her chest on the left side, abrasions over her left breast and upper lip, and bruises over her right shoulder.
A police case was filed soon after in April under sections 498A (cruelty by husband and relatives), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Dowry Prohibition Act.
However, Sharma said there hasn’t been any progress in the dowry harassment case. Her parents also allege that the retired judge could be influencing top officers handling the case.
According to media reports, assistant commissioner of police, K.Sridevi, had said that this video would be ‘documentary evidence.’ The team has been briefed about the incident by Sharma in her statement. The ACP had also said that serving a notice under Section 41 CrPC to Nooty Ramamohana Rao was left. The next hearing is scheduled for September 23. The latest video clip would be submitted to court and investigation will be on.
According to Sharma, she showed these videos to the police in April itself.
However, her husband, Vasista Nooty, called the video fabricated. “I filed for a divorce petition, now Sindhu released a fabricated video,” Vasista told News18.
According to sources close to the victim’s in-laws, Sharma had tried to commit suicide in the past and had attempted to do the same that night. The family had tried to stop her from harming herself and the kids.
However, the victim and her family hope that with assault being documented on video and released to public, the case would pick up momentum. They’re hoping that new sections under Indian Penal Code, such as attempt to murder (307) and (354)-criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty would be added to the case.
Sharma said she had the videos since April but decided to release them now after her husband filed a divorce petition.
Despite the inhuman behaviour and extreme torture, Sharma told News18 that she is open to reconciliation and is not seeking divorce.
“I don’t want my kids to grow up without a father. If my husband is ready to stay separate from his parents, I am ready to go back to him. My intention is not to get them punished, but I need justice,” a teary-eyed Sharma said.