Image caption, Aayushi Chaudhary’s body was found last week
By Rajnish Kumar
Aayushi Chaudhary should have been celebrating her 22nd birthday on 1 December.
Instead, nine days before that, her body was cremated in the presence of police officers.
Aayushi’s body – wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a red suitcase – was found on Friday near Mathura city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Police have arrested her parents, Nitesh Kumar Yadav and Brajbala, in connection with the murder, which is being treated as a case of suspected “honour killing”.
Honour killings – which refer to the murders of people perceived as bringing “shame” to their communities – are regularly reported in India. Many of the victims are young people who defy their families to marry from other religions or castes, or sometimes within the same sub-caste.
Police have alleged that Aayushi’s father shot her on 17 November at their home in capital city, Delhi, after an argument over her marriage to a man from another caste. After that, both her mother and father allegedly dropped off the body near the Yamuna expressway in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state.
The couple are in police custody and have not made any statements yet.
The police is still carrying out investigations, but the brutal murder has made headlines in India, where tens of thousands of crimes against women are reported every year.
Image caption, A bunch of books arranged neatly in Aayushi’s room
When BBC Hindi visited Aayushi’s home in Badarpur in southeast Delhi, there was an air of gloom in the normally bustling neighbourhood. A neighbour said she had not eaten properly for two days after hearing what had happened to Aayushi.
“She was very good at studies and scored well in the high school exam,” she recalled.
Aayushi was doing a bachelor’s degree in computer application from a private college and dreamed of becoming a software engineer.
Her room on the first floor of their home is a testament to the future she once planned for, and the small pleasures and mundanities of her daily life.
Her textbooks are arranged neatly on a shelf on the wall. There’s a framed photo in the room in which a young Aayushi poses next to her parents, younger brother and grandmother.
A narrow cupboard holds the make-up she used every day, including nail polish and lipsticks. A range of soft toys hang from the wall, including a small orange version of the huge Doraemon doll sitting on her bed.
Her grandmother Jamwanti says that Aayushi was generally quiet and spent her time mostly studying in her room.
“I was in the hospital for the past 15 days. When I returned, the police came and took away my son and daughter-in-law,” she says when asked about the case.
Image caption, A bunch of soft toys hang from the wall in Aayushi’s room
Citing police sources, The Indian Express newspaper reported that Aayushi got married last year – against her parents’ wishes – to a man from a different caste.
Police officials told BBC Hindi that this had caused a rift between the woman and her parents, leading to frequent arguments.
They allege that on the day of the murder, Aayushi had gone out without informing anyone at home and that her father was furious when she returned.
A post-mortem has revealed injury marks on her head, face and other body parts, police said, adding that she died after being “shot twice in the chest”.