Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has recovered a cellphone of the elder among two teenage girls allegedly gang-raped and murdered in UP’s Badaun district in May, which is likely to give clues about the perpetrators’ identity and sequence of events.
Cops sit in front of the Badaun rape victims' family. (Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)
The handset’s retrieval – from the residence of a relative of the victims, according to a state police source – may add a twist to the probe, since CBI suspects that family members of the deceased cousins played a role in hiding it.
“The moment CBI began asking for the phone, it disappeared. Possible role of the relatives of the victims is being probed,” said a source in the agency. The family members, however, have rejected the suggestion.
CBI has questioned the victims’ relatives as well as the five case accused –three brothers Pappu Yadav, Awadhesh Yadav, Urvesh Yadav, and constables Chhatrapal Yadav and Sarvesh Yadav – and is exploring all angles, including that of honour killing, the source said.
The agency recently got the trial court’s approval to subject the five accused, as well as four members of the victims’ family – including their fathers – to lie-detector tests. “The probe is yet to determine the veracity of the versions of the accused, the relatives, and a case witness,” said the source.
The handset, whose text and audio-visual data is being sought by the agency, had been allegedly missing since June 12 when CBI took over the case from Uttar Pradesh police on the state government’s request.
The phone, however, was recovered in a “badly damaged state”, and CBI has sent it to a forensic laboratory to retrieve maximum possible data from it via advanced cyber techniques, said the source.
Notably, on June 7, state director general of police AL Banerjee had suggested that the killings might have been triggered by property dispute and family honour.