Tension has been rising in Surat in Gujarat after the police named a Bihar native as a suspect in the case of a three-year-old girl's rape and murder in the city. This incident comes only days after migrant workers in Gujarat hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar faced violence after the arrest of a Bihar native for allegedly raping a 14-month-old girl in Gujarat's Sabarkantha district.
In the Surat case, the body of the girl, who was reported missing on 13 October, was found on Monday in a locked house on the ground floor of the building where she lived in Godadra locality. The police reportedly said that the accused, Anil Yadav, lived in that house, while the girl lived on the first floor.
A case of murder has been registered against Yadav, who has been absconding since Saturday night, according to the Hindustan Times. Deputy Commissioner of Police Rakesh Barot said an autopsy of the girl's body confirmed rape.
"CCTV camera footage revealed that the girl had not gone outside the society gate. This led us to do an extensive search within the society premises. On the evening of 15 October, the police broke open Yadav's house to find the body," the Hindustan Times quoted an official as saying.
Teams of the Surat Police headed to Bihar on Tuesday to track Yadav, The Indian Express reported. "We have identified the suspect and sent our teams to Bihar to locate him," Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said. "We have also made different teams to trace the accused in the neighbouring area."
Yadav has been charged with rape, murder and atrocity of the Indian Penal Code, as well as the POCSO Act, Sharma said. "After the missing persons complaint was registered, we formed eight-nine teams to search for the girl. After checking the society's CCTV camera footage, it was found that the girl had not left the building," the Deputy Commissioner of Police said.
A neighbour said that the accused had joined the search teams when the girl was reported missing on 13 October. He said Yadav had moved into the building only a month ago and worked as a labourer for a paints contractor.
The police have increased vigil in Surat as a precautionary measure, in view of the current situation across Gujarat where Hindi-speaking migrants, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, were targeted after the rape of the 14-month-old in Sabarkantha district last month.
"The situation is tense (in some pockets of Surat) not because the suspect is from Bihar, but because such an incident has happened. People are asking why such an incident took place. They are not against people from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar," Sharma said, adding that the police are "trying their best" to catch Yadav and that local residents have been asked to remain calm.
"People have been assured that the police are doing their job (to trace the culprit)," he said, adding that as many as four incidents of rape of minors came to light in Surat in the past 15 days. "In all the four cases, the accused were either relatives, family friends, neighbours or known persons. In this case, the victim's family knew the suspect as they used to live in the same building."
Sharma said the police has initiated a drive in Surat to make people understand the hazards of leaving their children alone or trusting neighbours or known persons.
Thousands of migrants fled Gujarat following a spate of attacks on them earlier in October after a migrant worker from Bihar was arrested by the police for allegedly raping the toddler in Sabarkantha district on 28 September.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2018 16:10 PM