On Wednesday (14 September) evening around six, bodies of two minor girls were found hanging from a tree in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district.
As the girls belonged to a scheduled caste of Hindus, several Dalit outfits raised the issue on social media, questioning the UP government over safety of Dalits.
On Thursday morning, Lakhimpur Kheri superintendent of police (SP) Sanjeev Suman briefed the media about the investigation thus far and made several revelations.
Three men, named Mohammed Junaid, Mohammed Hafizul and Mohammed Sohail, allegedly took the girls, who were familiar to Sohail and Junaid, to a secluded spot, the officer said.
They raped the girls and killed them when the latter pressured Sohail and Junaid to marry them, said police, citing confession of the accused made in the police custody.
After killing the girls, the three men called two accomplices, namely Mohammed Karimuddin and Mohammed Arif, to help hang the bodies of the girls from a tree to make it appear like suicide, the police said.
The officer also told the media that one Chhotu alias Gautam had introduced the girls to Junaid and Sohail. Though Chhotu has been named in the investigation and arrested, he was not present at the site of the crime, he said.
The girls live on the outskirts of Tamoliapurwa village.
A first information report (FIR) in the case was filed at 1am on the intervening night of 14 and 15 September at Nighasan police station (FIR number 744/2022).
The police booked unidentified accused under IPC sections 302 (murder), 323 (causing hurt), 452 (house trespass), 376 (rape) and sections of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.
A written statement given by the girls’ mother Maya Devi to the police yesterday (which Swarajya has accessed) said that in the evening on Wednesday, a neighbouring boy named Chhotu (son of Chetram) arrived at her home with three other men.
She did not know the men by their names but can identify them if they appear before her.
The men forcibly took her two daughters away with them on motorcycles towards the fields. After much searching, she and other villagers found the girls hanging from a tree, the statement concludes.
Lucknow range inspector general (IG) of police Laxmi Singh told the media that no injuries were found on the girls’ bodies. The officer said that the police were waiting for the post-mortem reports of the bodies to ascertain the reason behind their death.
The police told the media that they arrested Sohail and Hafizul on the intervening night of 14 and 15 September. Junaid was arrested today after an encounter with the police in which he sustained a bullet injury on his leg.
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