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In what now appears to be the third case of brutal rape and murder in a span of 20 days in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur, the victim this time is a 3-year-old girl.
The three-year-old, who had been missing since Wednesday, had injury marks on the head, police said. The toddler’s body was recovered from the vicinity of her village in the Singahi area, police said on Thursday.
On Friday, the police said the three-year-old whose body was found in a sugarcane field was raped and murdered. The post-mortem and autopsy report later revealed that she had been murdered by being hit on the head with heavy objects and then being strangled till she died.
In his complaint to police, the girl’s father had alleged that a person names Lekhram, a resident of their village, had abducted and killed her due to an old enmity with his family.
Following this, Lakhimpur Kheri Superintendent of Police (SP) Satendra Kumar Singh said a case of murder was lodged against the accused. The accused man was caught in an encounter on Friday, according to the police, which had formed four teams to look for him. The accused, identified as Lekhram, 35, from the girl’s village, sustained a bullet injury on his leg during the gunfight near Bamhanpur village in Nighasan area in the district. He was rushed to Nighasan health centre, where he is undergoing treatment and his condition is said to be stable.
A policeman from the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team also suffered minor bullet injuries in Friday’s encounter that was led by the district police chief, Satendra Kumar.
According to The Hindustan Times, Lakhimpur Kheri superintendent of police, Satendra Kumar, said on Friday the post-mortem examination had confirmed sexual assault. “The post-mortem report has confirmed rape… strict action will be taken against the accused,” he said, adding: “If needed, NSA will also be invoked against the accused.”
Lakhimpur Kheri: A 3-year-old girl was found dead in Matehiya. Satyendra Kumar Singh, Superintendent of Police said, "The body has been sent for post-mortem. We are investigating the matter and stringent action will be taken against accused." (3.09.2020) pic.twitter.com/9Ks53sMKOA
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) September 3, 2020
Additional Superintendent of Police (Lakhimpur Kheri) Arun Kumar Singh said the incident was a fallout of old enmity between the victim’s family and the accused. “In 2014, the wife of the accused was murdered and the child’s uncle was arrested in the case. The uncle is currently out on bail. Both families are neighbours. On Wednesday, after the child went missing, her family filed a complaint with the police. The next day, police recovered the body of a child from a sugarcane field in the village. The child’s family then filed a murder complaint against the accused,” the ASP said to The Indian Express.
Kumar further added that IPC section 376, pertaining to rape, and charges under the protection of children from sexual offences (POCSO) Act had been added to the FIR on the basis of the findings of the post-mortem report.
Earlier Lakhimpur was in news for the rape and murder of a 13-year-old who’s eyes and tongue was allegedly gouged out, and the rape and murder of a 17-year-old by her boyfriend while she was returning to her home after filing a scholarship form for higher studies.
The tunnel ahead seems dark and long, with no hope of a change. The government seems to be taking minimal action, after the crime, without any intention of willing to set a deterrent for the crime. Until and unless the focus is paid on the prevention of the crime or bring down the crime rate, rather than punishing the accused, we will come across incidents like this very week.