Anger spilled out on to the streets of Rajpur bazaar in Bihar’s Rohtas district on Sunday after a 12-year-old girl was found murdered – possibly after rape – with both her eyes gouged out, in yet another gruesome incident of rape and murder in the country.
The incident came to light a day after a 20-year-old woman died in a hospital in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, a week after being set on fire by a group of assailants who had also gang-raped her.
The Bihar rape-and-murder is also among a series of similar crimes against women reported from the northern belt recently, just months after the highly-publicised December 16 gang-rape of a paramedical student on a moving bus in Delhi which had triggered country-wide protests, forcing the government to bring in tougher anti-rape laws.
The body of the girl was discovered at a mango orchard close to the Rajpur police station.
An angry mob forced the market shut and set on fire a police jeep parked at Rajpur chowk, about 50km north-east of the Rohtas district headquarters town Sasaram and 150km west of state capital Patna.
The jeep was from the nearby Nasriganj police station and had been used by policemen from there to rush to the spot for crowd control, after receiving an SOS message from the local thana.
Blaming police "negligence" for the incident, the mob blocked the road at Rajpur Chowk, disrupting communication to Dehri, Nasriganj, Nokha and Sasaram, for hours.
Acting superintendent of police Abhay Kumar Lal rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the locals but the protesters continued with their blockade, insisting on immediate action to nab the killers.
"Sniffer dogs have been summoned and a team from forensics experts has also been called to the spot," said Lal, in reference to the protesters' demands.
The victim, daughter of a carpenter of Rajpur and a class six student at a middle school, had not returned home after she went out on Saturday evening.
The family-members, after searching for the girl, informed the Rajpur police about her disappearance, on Saturday night. But, the girl’s neighbours said, little was done in the matter till her body was found on Sunday morning.
Condemning the incident in strong words, Karakat MLA Rajeshwar Raj, under whose assembly constituency Rajpur falls, sought immediate arrest of the culprits.
He also appealed the people to maintain restraint and cooperate in police investigation.