Friday, Sep 29, 2023

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit Girls Found Hanging Dead In Lakhimpur Kheri, Six Arrested For Rape And Murder

Uttar Pradesh: Dalit Girls Found Hanging Dead In Lakhimpur Kheri, Six Arrested For Rape And Murder

The six men arrested for rape and murder of two Dalit sisters include two allegedly in relationship with them and one of their neighbours.

SP Lakhimpur Kheri Sanjeev Suman addressing media regarding the deaths of two Dalit minor sisters
SP Lakhimpur Kheri Sanjeev Suman addressing media regarding the deaths of two Dalit minor sisters PTI

Six men were arrested on Thursday after two Dalit girls were found hanging dead from a tree in a villlage in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur Kheri district.

The six accused men have been charged with rape and murder under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO). 

The two girls —sisters aged 15 and 17— were found hanging dead from a tree in a sugarcane field about a kilometre from their home in Nighasan police station limits on Wednesday afternoon. Police sources told PTI that the autopsy report said that the girls were raped before being killed by strangulation.

The girls' mother lodged a complaint at Nighasan Kotwali Police Station late on Wednesday night, alleging that her daughters were raped and murdered. She alleged that three motorcycle-borne unidentified youths, along with her neighbour Chhotu, stormed her hutment and abducted her daughters. When she resisted, one of them kicked her and took the girls on a motorcycle towards the fields outside the village, the victims' mother alleged, adding that the family later found the girls' bodies hanging from a tree in a field a few hundred metres from their village.

The preliminary investigation found that the two sisters left their home on Wednesday afternoon with two of the accused, Junaid and Sohail, said Lakhimpur Kheri Superintendent of Police (SP) Sanjiv Suman told.

"Junaid and Sohail have confessed to strangulating the girls after raping them," said Suman, adding that the two were allegedly in a relationship with the two sisters.  

"We have arrested Junaid, Sohail, Hafizur Rehman, Karimuddin, Arif and Chhotu in an overnight operation," said Suman.  

Junaid was arrested following an encounter around 8.30 am, the police said. The motorcycle used in the crime was also recovered. The police have also seized a country-made pistol and ammunition from him.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said Junaid was injured in the encounter.

"The bodies have been handed over to the girls’ family, who will conduct their last rites," said Kumar.

Suman said the clothes of the other accused have also been sent for examination as part of a detailed probe.  

A case has been registered against them under sections 302, 323, 452, and 376 of the IPC and POCSO Act. Section 302 of IPC is associated with murder, 323 with voluntarily causing hurt, 452 with house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrong­ful restraint, 376 with rape, 

Suman also dismissed claims that police used force to send the bodies for post-mortem. He said that the post-mortem had been conducted with the family's consent and in their presence, adding that videography of the post-mortem examination was also done.

After the incident came to light, the villagers staged a demonstration at Nighasan Cross. The police took the bodies into custody and sent them to the district headquarters in an ambulance shortly after, while Suman and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Arun Kumar Singh spoke to the villagers to assuage them.

A large number of police personnel were deployed to ensure law and order in the village. Kumar said senior officials from Lucknow were also sent to the spot.  

The incident has triggered angry reactions from Opposition parties that attacked the state's Yogi Adityanath-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said the incident had sparked discussions everywhere. 

"Criminals in UP are fearless because the priorities of the government are wrong. This incident exposes the claims of the government in the matter of law and order. The criminals are moving without any fear since there has been a cover-up in most of the criminal cases including the one in Hathras. The government should make necessary reforms in its policy, working and priorities," said Mayawati on Twitter.

Meanwhile, UP's two deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak said the government was with the victims' family and assured action against the accused.  

In a tweet in Hindi, Maurya said, "Strictest action will be taken against the criminals who had raped and murdered daughters in Lakhimpur Kheri. An issueless opposition should not do politics in such matters! The punishment given to the accused will set an example."  

Pathak tweeted, "The state government stands with the family members of the victims. The government takes such an action that the future generations of these accused will shiver."  

The police has also come under criticism for being insensitive with the victims' families. Videos of Suman, quoted above, and another police officer surfaced on the internet in which he is seen arguing with the family of the victims.

(With PTI inputs)


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