Daughter of Asharfi Mahto of Morsandi village, Soni had allegedly stolen some sweet potatoes from the farm of Chandan Devi. Enraged, Chandan Devi, 45, and her daughter, Dhulmul Kumari had allegedly beaten the child severely.
When Soni fell unconscious, they called in her parents.
Chandan Devi's husband Rajeswar Rai told them the child had lost consciousness for no apparent reason, said a police officer. "We suspected something was amiss when we detected marks around her neck. We took her to a doctor, who declared her dead," said Soni's uncle Harendra Mahto.
"An FIR has been lodged and the body has been sent for postmortem," said deputy superintendent of police Anoj Kumar. The Rai family is on the run.
"We have conducted raids at more than a dozen places to locate them," Kumar said.