The Uttar Pradesh Police on Saturday arrested two more accused in the brutal murder case of a two-and-a-half year old girl allegedly over a petty financial dispute which involved a debt of Rs 10,000 on the victim's parents. Those arrested Saturday have been identified as key accused Zahid's brother Mehndi and his wife; the duo have been charged as co-conspirators in the case, News18 reported.
The police had earlier nabbed two primary accused, Zahid and Aslam, who they said have confessed to killing the girl after her father failed to return Rs 10,000 he had borrowed from them.
Piecing together the sequence of events, police told India Today that on 30 May the child was playing at her aunt's house, which is very close to her own home. She followed her elder cousins out of the house at around 8.30 am but could not keep pace with them and got lost. Zahid and Aslam abducted her from the area and took them to the latter's house as he lived alone. They killed the girl and at this point, Zahid's brother and wife also got involved who allegedly helped him cover up the crime. The police even said that the scarf in which the victim's body was wrapped belonged to Zahid's wife.
Meanwhile, amid conflicting reports on whether or not the girl was subjected to sexual abuse, the police clarified that rape cannot be ruled out at this point. Earlier some media reports had given conflicting accounts of the incident. The post mortem report remained inconclusive as the child's genitalia and hymen could not be found due to putrefaction of the body.
It was also claimed that the victim’s arm was cut off by the accused, her eyes were gouged out and her body was defiled by pouring acid. However, the post mortem report remains inconclusive on these claims.
The report mentioned that the soft tissue around eyes has been lost, but that the damage was caused by an individual before death or is due to an animal attack or natural decomposition is unclear. The police also said that no trace of acid has been found on the body, as was being claimed by some. The post mortem report also said that her mutilated body was dragged by stray dogs out of a dumping ground.
Replying to questions from reporters in Lucknow, ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said, "The case will be fast-tracked. POCSO will also be included in the FIR. As of now sexual assault is not ruled out." He said vaginal swabs have been sent for forensic examination. The police said a decision on adding the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act will be taken after the forensic report comes.
ADG Kumar said the body was sent for postmortem examination more than 72 hours after the death. "Entry of maggots have been found."
Meanwhile, it has also come to light that one of the two key accused in the case, had been accused of raping his own daughter five years ago. According to a report in The Indian Express, the man was accused of raping his daughter in 2014 on the basis of a complaint by a relative. He was granted bail some months later. A total of four cases are pending against him, filed under various IPC sections, including 376 (rape), 354 (assault with intention to outrage modesty of a woman) and 363 (kidnapping).
The local authorities, facing flak amid nationwide outrage over the murder, have also suspended five police officers accused of negligence of duties and began proceedings to invoke the stringent National Security Act against the accused. Asked about the suspension of police officials, SSP Kulhari told PTI that it was done on the basis of the inquiry conducted by circle officer Pankaj Srivastva.
The girl's father had threatened to go on fast unto death, demanding the arrest of the accused's family members who, he said, "colluded" in the crime. The SSP met him and persuaded him against sitting on fast.
Kulhari said he has assured Sharma that justice would be done in the case and the accused would be tried in a fast- track court. The girl's family had alleged that the police inaction cost their daughter her life.
Her uncle said police did not take action when they reported that the child has gone missing. "A sweeper alerted us that the body was lying in a garbage dump," he told reporters, adding it was found 200 metres from their home.
Despite her parents approaching the police to register a missing persons complaint on the same day, an official complaint in this regard was lodged only 30 hours later, on 31 May. The police only swung in action after the badly decomposed and mutilated body was discovered and arrested two men suspected of having committed the crime over a financial dispute, he alleged.
"We searched for her, even made announcements on loudspeakers at public places like temples but could not find her. If the police had made the kind of efforts they are making now, she could have been saved," the victim's father told Times Now.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2019 15:29:32 IST