Aligarh: One of the two men arrested for the horrific murder of a toddler in Aligarh had been accused of raping his daughter five years ago, a police officer in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh has revealed.
According to a report in Indian Express, the man was accused of raping his daughter in 2014 on the basis of a complaint by a relative. He was granted bail some months later.
A total of four cases are pending against him, filed under various IPC sections, including 376 (rape), 354 (assault with intention to outrage modesty of a woman) and 363 (kidnapping).
The decomposed body of the two-and-a-half-year-old was found in a garbage dump three days after she was reported missing by her family in Tappal township.
Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said she in touch with the state government regarding the case. Irani also requested people to not reveal the identity of the minor girl.
Meanwhile, amid outrage over the murder, authorities suspended five policemen for negligence and began proceedings to invoke the stringent NSA against the two men who allegedly killed her over a Rs 10,000 loan.
The policemen, including a Station House Officer, were suspended for alleged delay in registering the case after the girl was reported missing on May 30, and also for delaying the probe which eventually led to the discovery of her body on June 2, officials said.
The post-mortem examination confirmed death due to strangulation. It has not found any sign of sexual assault but this cannot be ruled out at this stage.
The murder triggered a massive outrage on social media, with political leaders and celebrities tweeting their disgust over the brutality of the crime. Some children also took out a candle-light march in Aligarh.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights sought a report from district authorities and said in New Delhi that it will issue directions to them based on the report.
Replying to questions from reporters in Lucknow, ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said, "The case will be fast-tracked. POCSO will also be included in the FIR. As of now sexual assault is not ruled out."
He said vaginal swabs have been sent for forensic examination.
Aligarh Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhari too said vaginal swab and slides have been sent to a forensic science laboratory.
The SSP said a decision on adding the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act will be taken after the forensic report comes.
ADG Kumar said the body was sent for postmortem examination more than 72 hours after the death. "Entry of maggots have been found."
Aligarh Chief Medical Officer M L Agarwal said "there was no evidence of sexual assault" according to the post-mortem examination but given the gravity of the matter, police had been handed over vaginal swab for further investigation.
The CMO dismissed reports that the body had acid marks, saying: "There is no mention in the report of any acid burns on the victim's body."
He said the body had been dumped for nearly four days and hence it had "some signs of tissue damage as a result of normal decomposition".
"There was some soft tissue damage in both eyes but the orbit was intact. The soft tissue damage was in all probability the result of tissue decomposition as the body had been buried in a garbage dump for a long time," Agarwal said.
Tappal police station officials registered the case on May 31, a day after she had gone missing. Two suspects have been arrested.
The accused Zahid and Aslam have confessed to killing the girl after her father failed to return Rs 10,000 he had borrowed from them, police said in a statement.
Asked about the suspension of police officials, SSP Kulhari told PTI that it was done on the basis of the inquiry conducted by circle officer Pankaj Srivastva.
The girl's father had threatened to go on fast unto death, demanding the arrest of the accused's family members who, he said, "colluded" in the crime. The SSP met him and persuaded him against sitting on fast.
Kulhari said he has assured Sharma that justice would be done in the case and the accused would be tried in a fast- track court.
A neighbour said the girl was playing outside her home with other children on May 30 before she disappeared.
Her uncle said police did not take action when they reported that the child has gone missing. "A sweeper alerted us that the body was lying in a garbage dump," he told reporters, adding it was found 200 metres from their home.
SSP Kulhari said proceedings have begun to charge the duo under the National Security Act.
A six-member SIT has been formed to investigate the case and a female inspector had been appointed to carry forward the probe, he said.
The minor's killing took a political colour with Congress president Rahul Gandhi expressing shock over the incident and wondering how any human being can treat a child so brutally.
"The horrific murder of a little girl in Aligarh, UP has shocked and disturbed me. How can any human being treat a child with such brutality? This terrible crime must not go unpunished. The UP police must act swiftly to bring the killers to justice," he said on Twitter.
His sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too condemned the inhuman act. "The brutal murder in Aligarh is yet another inhuman, unspeakable crime against an innocent child. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain her parents must feel. What has become of us," she asked.
BSP supremo Mayawati described the brutal killing as "highly shameful and sad incident".
"The Uttar Pradesh government should take strict action immediately to establish the rule of law in the state and put the guilty behind the bars," she said in a statement in Lucknow.