The dead bodies of two minor sisters belonging to the Dalit community were found in a pond in a village in Asodhar in Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district, PTI reported on Tuesday. Following the incident, the police have provided at least two separate versions, while the family has alleged that the sisters were killed after an attempt to rape.

The bodies of the girls, aged 8 and 12, were retrieved from the pond late on Monday evening, police officer Rajesh Kumar told PTI, adding that both the bodies had injury marks on the eyes. A report by the Times of India also mentions that the girls’ eyes were gouged out and their legs tied.

However, speaking to ANI, Fatehpur Superintendent of Police denied such reports.

“Rumours [are] being spread that their eyes were gouged out and hands were tied. No such thing happened,” the police officer said. “Prima facie it seems to be a case of drowning.”

Police officials speaking to both ANI and PTI confirmed that the bodies have been sent for a postmortem examination.

The girls had gone to the field in the afternoon to get vegetables but did not return, Kumar told PTI. “The family members have alleged that the attackers killed the girls after an unsuccessful attempt to rape them,” he added.

Ranjit Bahadur Singh, Station House Officer at the local Asothar police station, also said that the family members of the victims found their bodies near a pond in outskirts of Chichni village, after they went missing on Monday afternoon, according to The Times of India.

“The bodies were lying near a pond. Their legs were tied,” the victims’ father said. “We do not have any enmity with anyone in the village. Why would anyone kill my daughters and that too in such a gruesome manner.”

The rise in cases of crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh have come under serious scrutiny in the last few months. In the recent past, the Hathras gangrape case, where four upper-caste Thakur men had tortured and raped a Dalit woman, leading to her death, resulting in outrage and protests across the country. The administration’s role was also criticised in the Hathras case after the woman was hastily cremated by police against her family’s will, while they had been locked indoors.