The police in Uri town of Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district said they have arrested five people, including a nine-year-old girl’s stepmother and stepbrother, for their involvement in the alleged gangrape and murder of the minor. She went missing on August 24 and her mutilated body was found in the forests of Boniyar village in Uri on September 2, the police said.

The girl’s father was married to two women – one from a local village and another woman who is from Jharkhand. The child was the daughter of the second wife. According to the police, the girl’s stepmother held a grudge against the second wife and her children as she believed their father loved them more and spent more time with them. The police also claimed the nine-year-old was the father’s favourite child.

The police’s statement said that on August 24, the stepmother, armed with a knife, allegedly took the girl to the forest with the help of her 14-year-old son. The other accused – 19-year-old Kaiser Ahmad, another teenager, and 28-year-old Naseer Ahmad – then joined them. All the men then allegedly raped the child at the stepmother’s insistence.

“It was Kaiser who first raped her and then all others, including her stepbrother took turns to rape the girl,” said the police. “Thereafter the stepmother strangulated the girl and her stepbrother hit her head with axe, killing her on spot.”

Two of the accused then dumped the body in the bushes and covered it with branches. “Physical condition and preliminary forensic analysis of dead body substantiated all these facts,” the police stated. “All the material and weapons, including axe and knife, have been recovered at the instance of the accused.”

The crimes will soon be chargesheeted, they said. A special investigation team has been constituted to look into the case.