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Six arrested for rape, murder of minor Dalit sisters in UP’s Lakhimpur Kheri

A day after two underage Dalit sisters were found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district, police said on Thursday they had allegedly been raped and strangled before being hanged. They added that six accused were arrested and charged under the provisions of the Child Protection Against Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO), 2012. One of the accused was caught after meeting, they also said.

Police identified the six suspects as Chotu, Junaid, Suhail, Hafizul Rehman, Karimuddin and Arif. “All the accused and the girls belong to the same village. Chotu, son of Chetram, was known to the girls in the past and he was the one who introduced the girls to three of the suspects. Later, when the girls started forcing them into marriage, the accused strangled and hanged them,” said Lakhimpur Kheri SP Sanjeev Suman. Both girls were raped before the murder, police said.

The SP said that in addition to Chotu alias Gautam, three of the other suspects known to the girls were identified as Suhail, son of Islamuddin, Hafizul Rehman alias Majhalka, and Junaid. “Junaid was arrested after a meeting on Thursday morning and he has a gunshot wound to one of his legs,” he said, adding that these three called two more of their friends from the same village – Karimuddin alias DD and Arif, son of Ahmad Hussain – to help them hang the girls from the tree.

The victims’ mother said she was taking a bath around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, when Chotu, who was often near them, heard her daughters calling. Soon, three boys showed up and started dragging her daughters away, she added. “I tried to stop them and ran after them, but they beat me up and left. I screamed and ran back to get help from the villagers,” the mother said.

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The girls’ relatives have demanded the death penalty for the accused in hopes of preventing such crimes in the future. “All we want is phansi (death penalty) for the accused, that’s all,” said the victims’ brother.

The FIR was registered late Wednesday night under sections 302 (murder), 323 (voluntary infliction of pain), 452 (domestic burglary) and 378 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code, in addition to Sections 3 and 4 (sexual assault) of Protection of Act children of sexual offenses (POCSO).

On Wednesday night, as the news spread, angry local residents protested and blocked a road. The blockade was only lifted after senior police officials intervened and ensured a thorough investigation and strict action against the culprits.

UP Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak vowed to take strict action against the accused. “The government will take such action that the souls of their generations to come will also tremble. Justice will be given,” he told ANI news agency.

In response to the incident, the former prime minister of Uttar Pradesh and the leader of the Bahujan Samaj party, Mayawati, signaled what she believes is a matter of law and order in the state. “This incident strongly exposes the government’s claims regarding law and order and women’s safety etc. in UP,” Mayawati tweeted Thursday. “In the case of such heinous crimes, including Hathras, most criminals are fearless because of the veil.”

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Congress Secretary General Priyanka Gandhi Vadra condemned the incident and highlighted the increasing number of crimes against women in the state. “The incident with the murder of two sisters in Lakhimpur (UP) is heartbreaking,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “Giving false advertisements in newspapers and TV every day does not improve public order. After all, why are the heinous crimes against women increasing in UP?”



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