The Uttar Pradesh Police on Monday released all eight upper-caste men held for allegedly murdering four members of a Scheduled Caste family in Gohri village of Prayagraj district, The Indian Express reported. The police have, however, detained three Dalit youths in relation to the case.
Four members of the family were found murdered on Thursday morning. The police had sent the bodies of a 50-year old man, his 45-year-old wife and their two minor children for autopsy. The police had initially framed charges against 11 people – eight upper-caste and three Dalit men.
Citing the postmortem report, the police on Monday said that the father and son were killed with an axe that was seized from the crime spot, while the mother had been hit on the head with a blunt object and the daughter had been strangulated, The Print reported.
Prayagraj Senior Superintendent of Police Sarvashresth Tripathi said that the doctors suspect the minor girl was raped as they found “male discharge” on her genitals.
The police also said that a 19-year old, one of the three detained Dalit men, is the prime suspect for murdering the family and raping the minor girl. The suspect has been sent to judicial custody. The two others would be released soon, unidentified police officials told The Indian Express.
On Sunday, Prayagraj Additional Director General of Police Prem Prakash had said that the 19-year-old was stalking the girl. “He was harassing the girl…,” Prakash said in a tweet. “On the basis of the last message and circumstantial evidence, he was arrested.”
The last message which the 16-year-old girl had sent to the Dalit youth was, “I hate you”.
However, an unidentified senior police official told The Indian Express that they were awaiting forensic and DNA reports as they were pressed for evidence against the suspect.
The sister of the 19-year-old prime suspect alleged that he was being targeted since he was “Dalit and poor”. She claimed that her brother was home when the family was murdered.
Meanwhile, the extended family of the murder victims said that they feared harassment from the eight upper-caste men who were released on Monday, The Wire reported. The relatives also alleged that the police were trying to protect the upper-caste men, who have been involved in a land dispute with the deceased family.
The kin of the murder victims also raised suspicion over the arrest of the 19-year-old Dalit man, The Indian Express reported.
“How can one boy kill four people on his own?” asked the brother of the 50-year old man who was killed. “And if others were involved, where are they, who are they?… And if the boy had an issue with my niece [the 16-year-old girl who was murdered], he would have killed her, why the other three?”