An angry mob lynched a man for raping and murdering a three-year-old girl in Lucknow on Tuesday.
The incident took place in the crowded Pandey Ganj locality of old Lucknow where the child and culprit were neighbours.
The girl had stepped out of her house in the morning, when her neighbour Shiv Mohan Sharma picked her up. Quite used to visiting the Sharma household and knowing him as tauji (uncle), little Riya could not have imagined that he would turn into a beast before murdering her.
Around 10 am when the girl could not be seen, her family members panicked. Riya's father, who works as a coach in Talwalkar's Gym, received a call from Sharma assuring him that the child was with him and he would soon bring her back.
According to the police, "Riya's family members suspected some foul play and stormed into Sharma's house, where they discovered her badly bruised body wrapped in a quilt."
The entire neighbourhood reacted in horror and anger. They beat up the 38-year-old carpenter until he died.
Even Sharma's 70-year-old mother Savitri was not spared, and several neighbours took out their anger on her too till she was saved by policemen.
"Riya was a very sweet child and I really loved her a lot. If I had the least idea of what my son was up to, I would have saved the child even at the cost of my life," Savitri told IANS at the police station.
The incident has sent shock waves in the capital of India's most populous state, where rape of minors has been occurring with impunity.
In the past, the culprits have often got away simply on account of technical loopholes in the evidence.
"Not very long ago a now retired judge of the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court Justice Vishnu Sahai acquitted the rapist of a five-year-old girl after being awarded death sentence by a trial court simply because there was no eyewitness. Sure enough people are provoked to take the law into their own hands in such a scenario," remarked a senior police official on condition of anonymity.