A minor girl was found dead at Balarampur in the Gajol police station area of Malda early Friday.
Sources said she was likely raped and then strangled to death.
Getting word from locals, a police team rushed to the scene and took custody of the decomposed body.
Sources said the girl, a student of Class 6 at Ramchandra Saha Balika Vidyalaya, had been missing since January 22. Later, on January 28, an anonymous caller rang up her kin and asked for Rs. 1 lakh for her release.
According to local sources, the girl left home to run some errand on January 22 and never got back home. Her family members scoured the neighbourhood and beyond, but couldn’t find any trace of her.
On January 28, they got a ransom call and the caller hung up saying they would be informed when and where to deposit the cash. They were also warned against going to the police.
However, her kin sent word to the police later that day.
Before the police could move in on a rescue act, the girl was killed.
A local, who first spotted the body on Friday, said, “Her clothes were torn. It seemed she was raped and killed.”
“Her (the victim’s) father works at a bicycle repair shop and there was no way he could have met the ransom demand. We informed the police and even gave the number of the anonymous caller. But they couldn’t get her home alive and safe. We wish the police had shown a little more urgency to save her. Had they been prompt inoving in on the culprits, they wouldn’t have had the chance to kill her,” a member of the victim’s family said.
“It seems the girl was killed before January 28. We suspect the ransom call was a ploy to put us off the scent. We aren’t yet sure if she was raped. But, we found external injury marks on her body,” a senior officer of Malda police said.
“We have booked a murder case and the investigation is on,” Malda SP Prasun Banerjee said.