A nine-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped, murdered and forcibly cremated by the accused on Sunday night in Delhi’s Cantonment area, NDTV reported.
The girl, who was from an economically backward family, lived close to a crematorium in Purana Nangal. On Saturday evening, she went to get water from a cooler at the crematorium but did not come back. Around 6 pm, a priest at the crematorium along with three others called the girl’s mother to the spot to show her the body.
“They told her that the girl was electrocuted to death while having water from the cooler,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (south-west) Ingit Pratap Singh, according to the Hindustan Times. “They showed her the burn marks on her daughter’s wrist and elbow, and said her lips had turned blue. The four men asked the girl’s mother to not inform the police about the death.”
Singh said they also told the mother that filing a case would lead to autopsy and doctors will sell her vital organs. The girl’s body was then cremated.
According to the police, nearly 200 locals of old Nangal village reached the crematorium on Sunday night and held a protest demanding that the accused be arrested. The police were informed about the matter at 10.30 pm.
Four persons – Radhey Shyam, Kuldeep, Laxmi Narayan and Salim – were arrested on Monday. While Shyam is the priest, the other three men are all acquaintances of the girl’s mother.
Initially a case under Sections 304 (causing death by negligence), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code was filed at Delhi Cantonment police station.
Following the protest, Indian Penal Code Sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 376 (punishment for rape), and relevant sections of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act were added, reports said.
A neighbour of the girl’s family demanded that the police should scan CCTV footage to know what happened on Sunday. She sought strict punishment for the priest and the three men.
“If it was a case of electrocution, why did they [the suspects] not inform the police or send the girl’s body to any hospital for autopsy,” the woman asked. “What was the urgency to cremate the body and that too late in the evening, when no cremation is allowed at the crematorium after 6 pm? Why did they do it without the consent of the girl’s parents? We suspect that this is a case of murder after rape.”
The police said the investigation team and forensic experts have collected evidence from the crematorium.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded capital punishment for the accused.
“The barbarism and murder of the nine-year old in Delhi is extremely shameful,” he tweeted. “There is need to strengthen the law and order situation in Delhi. The guilty should be hanged to death as early as possible. I will meet the complainant’s family tomorrow and will help them in all possible ways in their fight for justice.”
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi also tweeted a news article on the incident saying: “The daughter of a Dalit is also a daughter of this country.”