Two years after the horrific Hathras rape and murder sent shockwaves across the country, another alleged incident has been reported in Uttar Pradesh, where two minor Dalit girls were found hanging outside a village in Lakhimpur Kheri on Wednesday.
Their mother said that they were forcibly taken away by men on motorcycles. The family has alleged that the girls, aged 17 and 15 years were raped, murdered, and hung from the tree. The bodies have been sent for postmortem and a large police force has been deployed in the area.
"The girls were found hanging by their own dupattas. There were no apparent injuries on the body," said Laxmi Singh, Inspector General of Police, Lucknow Range.
Based on the mother's complaint, the police registered an FIR under the POCSO Act as well as IPC sections 302, 323, 452, and 376. Sanjeev Suman, SP Lakhimpur Kheri informed that all the six accused have been arrested. They include Suhail, Hafizul Rehman, Chhotu, Karimuddin and Arif.
Addressing a joint press conference today, SP Suman informed, "Both the girls were acquainted with Chhotu, who manipulated them into going to the fields. He then introduced them to his friends, who raped and murdered them. Four accused were arrested last night, while two others were nabbed later. During investigation, the police engaged in an encounter after which one Junaid was arrested. All the six accused belong to the Tamoli village."
Meanwhile, Lakhimpur DM Mahender Bahadur said the post-mortem of both sisters and its videography will be conducted today. Heavy police has been deployed outside the post-mortem house, where a panel of three doctors, Dr. O Ahmed, Dr. Rajendra Kumar and Dr. Abhishek Sahu will conduct the autopsy.
Meanwhile, the villagers held a massive demonstration at Nighasan Cross in protest of the killings and blocked the roads, demanding immediate action against the accused.
Superintendent of Police Sanjiv Suman and Assistant Superintendent of Police Arun Kumar Singh talked to the irate villagers in a bid to console them, while a heavy police force was deployed in the village to ensure law and order.
The incident brings back horrifying memories of the Hathras case, where a 19-year-old Dalit woman was raped allegedly by four upper-caste men on September 14. Having suffered brutal injuries, the woman died at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital on September 29.
The victim was cremated in the dead of the night near her home on September 30 and the family members had alleged that they were forced by the local police to hurriedly conduct her last rites.
The police, however, said the cremation was carried out "according to the wishes of the family".