Two Dalit minor sisters, aged 15 and 17, were found hanging by a tree in a sugarcane field in Uttar Pradesh's Lakhimpur on Wednesday night. Six people have reportedly been arrested on charges of rape and murder on the complaint of the girls' mother. The two dead bodies were found about a kilometer away from their house under Nighasan police station limits.
An autopsy conducted on Thursday confirmed hat the two sisters had been raped before being murdered. The accused have been identified as Suhail, Junaid, Hafizul Rehman, Karimuddin, Arif and Chotu.
Earlier in the day, the UP Police had announced the dead bodies would be sent for post-mortem. "A panel of 3 doctors is conducting the post-mortem. Case is against women and against a weaker section of society. We worked with speed and sensitivity. The accused have been booked under section IPC 302, 376 and POCSO act." SP Lakhimpur Kheri, Sanjeev Suman, told news agency ANI.
Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak said the case proceedings will take place via fast track court. "Girls were strangled to death and then hanged. Government will take such an action that the souls of their coming generations will also shiver. Justice will be given," he said.
The case has revived the chilling memories of the Hathras rape case of September 2020 where a 19-year-old Dalit girl was raped and brutally assaulted in UP's Hathras by her upper-caste neighbours. The girl died after nearly two weeks of battling for her life.
Here is what we know about the case so far:
The dead bodies of two Dalit sisters were found on Wednesday night. The mother has alleged that they were "abducted" three hours before their dead bodies were found, by three men who forcibly took them on motorcycles. She also alleged that she was assaulted when she tried stopping them.
The two sisters were introduced to these boys by their neighbour, Chotu, who has also been arrested, according to the police.
Who are the accused?
The accused have been identified as Chotu, Junaid, Sohail, Hafizul, Karimuddin and Arif. Chotu was reportedly a neighbour of the two girls, while others hailed from Lalpur village. Junaid was "nabbed" after an encounter in which he was shot in the leg, the police said.
What have the police found?
The police told media that the two girls were "lured to farms" where they were raped and later killed. "Accused were friends with deceased girls. Girls were yesterday lured to farms and raped by Sohail and Junaid. After the girls forced the accused to marry them, Sohail, Hafizul and Junaid strangulated and killed them." the police said, adding that they called two more associates, Karimuddin and Arif, and hanged the girls to "eliminate the proof".