Badaun rerun? How Dalit sisters found hanging from tree in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri evoke memories of 2014 horror

In 2014, the bodies of two Dalit cousins were found hanging from a branch of a mango tree in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun district. Eight years later, similar scenes have unfolded in Lakhimpur Kheri where two minor girls have been found dead with family members alleging rape

FP Explainers September 15, 2022 11:35:25 IST
Badaun rerun? How Dalit sisters found hanging from tree in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri evoke memories of 2014 horror

UP Police console the family members of the girls. ANI

In an incident which should shame us, two minor Dalit sisters were found hanging from a tree in a sugarcane field located about a kilometre away from their house in Nighasan police station limits of Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district on Wednesday.

The 15-and-17-year-old girls were, according to family members, abducted from outside the house three hours prior to their bodies being spotted.

The girls’ father was quoted by The Week as saying that three motorcycle borne miscreants had abducted them on Wednesday afternoon when they were outside their house to cut fodder for their cattle. He said that he wasn’t at home when the incident took place and that they found the bodies of the girls hanging from a tree in the field with a red dupatta around their necks.

According to NDTV, the mother of the two girls alleged that they were raped and then murdered, prompting anger from the locals of the village.

The police, in the meantime, has begun investigations and the bodies of the girls have been sent for the autopsy. “The picture will be clear from the autopsy report,” said Lakhimpur Kheri Superintendent of Police (SP) Sanjiv Suman.

Lakhimpur Kheri Circle Officer Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, as per an Indian Express report, said the clothes on victim sisters’ bodies were intact. Another official added that barring the necks, there were no injury marks on other parts of the bodies.

On Thursday morning, the police arrested six people in connection to the crime. The police was quoted as saying that the girls were being pressured to marry two of the accused who, along with four of their accomplices, raped and murdered them.

The incident also prompted reactions from political parties, with Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav comparing it to the Hathras incident of 2020.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also took to Twitter to condemn the incident.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati criticised the Uttar Pradesh government over the incident, saying that “criminals are roaming fearlessly in UP because the priorities of the government are wrong”.

Badaun rerun

The incident in Lakhimpur also brought back stark reminders of the death of two cousins in Uttar Pradesh’s Badaun, whose bodies were found hanging from a tree in 2014.

In the wee hours of 28 May 2014, two girls aged 14 and 15 were found hanging from a branch of a mango tree in Katra Sadatganj village. The two cousins had gone missing the previous evening when they had gone in the fields to relieve themselves.

When they didn’t return late into the night, their families began searching. Early the next day, the girls were found hanging from a tree.

The villagers alleged that the girls, from the Dalit Maurya community, gang-raped and then hanged from the tree. They also alleged the involvement of police constables and four others in the incident.

Following an FIR being registered, a post-mortem confirmed that the girls were raped. By 31 May, all five main accused, including two policemen, were arrested and then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe in the matter.

However, as the CBI took over the case, the matter became murkier. The CBI alleged of several inconsistencies in the statements of family members.

In August of 2014, the CBI said it would not file a chargesheet as the forensic report ruled out the possibility of sexual assault. The CBI said there was no forensic or circumstantial evidence suggesting rape and murder as alleged in the FIR registered by the Uttar Pradesh Police.

Later, in November of the same year, the CBI concluded that the girls were not sexually assaulted or murdered and had, instead, taken their own lives. Based off phone records, they added that the elder girl had an affair with one of the accused.

The agency closed the investigations with dropping of charges against five accused — Pappu, Awadhesh and Urvesh Yadav (brothers) and constables Chhatrapal Yadav and Sarvesh Yadav.

However, the POCSO (Protection Of Children from Sexual Offenses Act) Court rejected the CBI report and the matter has been pending since then.

According to Kokab Hasan Naqvi, the lawyer for the victims’ families, the court had summoned Pappu Yadav, the main accused, after a petition was filed against the CBI closure report, The Quint reported, adding that all five are currently out on bail as the case drags on.

With inputs from agencies

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