6 arrested in UP sisters death case; one accused shot in leg during encounter
The mother of the two girls alleged that they were murdered and accused three youths from the neighbouring village in Nighasan police station limits of abducting and killing them.
A total of six accused have been arrested in connection with the the death of two minor sisters, belonging to the scheduled caste community, who were found hanging from a tree under the Nighasan police station limits of Lakhimpur Kheri district on Wednesday evening.
SP Lakhimpur Kheri Sanjiv Suman said that one local villager, identified as Chhotu Gautam, and five youths of nearby village have been arrested in the case. The five others were identified as Junaid, Sohail, Hafezul Rehman, Karimudeen and Adil, of neighbouring Lalpur village. Briefing media on the arrests and the sequence of incidents, the police offical said Sohail and Hafeezul Rehaman raped and murdered the girls while Chhotu acted as the facilitator. The police added the girls had a love affair with Junaid and Sohail.
The remaining two accused, Kareemudeen and Adil, helped the other three in disposing of the bodies.
Junaid was reportedly shot in the right leg in retaliatory firing during police encounter.
A panel of doctors have confirmed rape and death due to strangulation in the post-mortem report, according to people familiar with the matter.
Additional SP Arun Kumar Singh earlier said that FIR has been lodged against Chhotu, and three unidentified youths under Indian Penal Code sections 302 (for murder), 323 (for voluntarily causing hurt), 452 (for criminal house trespass) and 376 (for rape). Sections 3 and 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) act have also been included. The FIR was lodged as per the sequence of incidents told by the girls' mother and allegations levelled by her, said Singh.
Local villagers and the girls’ family accused three men of abduction and murder and staged a demonstration at the Nighasan crossing, a few kilometres from the village. The mother of the girls has alleged that three youngsters of the neighbouring village on a bike abducted the two girls from near a hutment while the two sisters were cutting fodder.
The Uttar Pradesh government faced intense criticism from the opposition leaders over the death of two minor sisters. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked the reason behind the “increase in heinous crimes against women” in UP, saying “false advertisements in newspapers and TV” does not improve the law and order situation.
“The incident of murder of two sisters in Lakhimpur (UP) is heart-wrenching. The relatives say that those girls were abducted in broad daylight,” she tweeted in Hindi.
“Giving false advertisements in newspapers and TV every day does not improve law and order. After all, why are heinous crimes against women increasing in UP?”
Samajwadi Party chief and Leader of Opposition in UP Legislative Assembly Akhilesh Yadav called the incident a “heinous repetition of Hathras”, saying the vicitims’ father had alleged that the post-mortem was done without Panchnama and family’s consent. In September 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped and assaulted in UP’s Hathras, and, days later, her body was cremated in the dead of the night.
“After kidnapping two Dalit sisters in Nighasan police station area, their murder and after that the father's serious allegation on the police that their post-mortem was done without Panchnama and consent,” Yadav tweeted.
“After farmers in Lakhimpur, the killing of Dalits is now a heinous repetition of the 'Hathras ki Beti' massacre,” he further wrote.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh expressed shock over the incident and said it is exposing chief minister Yogi Adityanath's ‘Beti Bachao’ (save daughter) slogan.
Lucknow range inspector general (IG) of police Laxmi Singh said the post-mortem of the two bodies will be conducted by a panel of doctors. She said the police officials have been directed to register the FIR whatsoever on the basis of complaint lodged by the victims' family members. The senior police officers assured the villagers that the police will work out the case quickly and urged the villagers to call off their road-block and cooperate with the post-mortem examination.