Relatives wait outside a hospital mortuary to pick up the body of the victim.
Relatives wait outside a hospital mortuary to pick up the body of the victim.Reuters

A young mother and her baby daughter were burned to death by her husband in India over a dispute over dowry payments.

Annu Devi, 22, was set ablaze by her husband Gunjan Masat while she breastfed her daughter at night.

Police in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand have arrested Masat, who allegedly poured kerosene over his wife and child and set them alight with a match.

He allegedly attempted to make the murder look like an accident by making Devi sit beside a fireplace and placing a water container over it.

The young mother was spotted by a local lying in a courtyard at the house still alive despite suffering 90% burns. She was then rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Devi, who had been married to Masat for more than a year, began having problems with her husband and his family after she gave birth to a baby girl.

Devi's father Raghuni Rana told police: "They wanted a son but didn't realise that giving birth to a girl was not Devi's fault.

"They were demanding a TV set and a motorcycle. I had already given them two bighas (1.6 acres) of land in dowry. They started harassing and torturing her until they decided to end her life."

Superintendent of Police Nirmal Kumar Mishra said all the accused would be arrested and prosecuted for the "heinous" crime. Devi's brother-in-law, who is accused of taking part in the murder, is still at large.

Thousands of girls are aborted in India every year because boys are preferred due to the dowry payments they secure for their families.

According to India's National Crime Records Bureau, one woman dies every hour due to murders related to dowry disputes. Dowry-related deaths have risen steadily between 2007 and 2011, reaching 8,233 in 2012.