By Akash Vashishtha and Rohit Wadhwaney
More than three days after the brutalized body of a missing teenage girl was found in the northern Indian state of Haryana, police had yet to identify her alleged rapists and killers, an official said Tuesday.
The 15-year-old victim went missing on Jan. 9 after she left her home in Kurukshetra town for private tutoring, police said, adding that her body, which bore signs of sexual abuse and torture, was discovered about 100 km (62 miles) away in Jind on Saturday.
“We have rounded up many people for questioning, but haven’t yet zeroed down on the culprits. No arrests so far. But one person from the girl’s village has been missing since she disappeared last week. We are trying to trace him to ascertain the identities of the accused,” Jind’s Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Dheeraj Kumar Singh, told BenarNews.
The victim’s liver and lungs were ruptured because a blunt object was inserted in her body, a doctor who conducted the autopsy said, rekindling memories of the infamous Delhi gang-rape in which a 23-year-old medical student died after being tortured on a moving bus in 2012.
“The body had many injury marks. The private parts were mutilated and there were lot of internal injuries. Signs of sexual assault are visible and it looks like three-four people were responsible. A hard and blunt thing was inserted inside her,” NDTV quoted Dr. S.K. Dattarwal of the government hospital in Rohtak as saying.
Namrata Gaur, of the Haryana Women Commission, said that the victim and the missing youth from her village knew one another.
“The commission is closely monitoring the case and we have assured the victim’s family of all assistance in the case,” Gaur told reporters.
“Both the victim and the youth left their homes together. It is now a matter of police investigation how the brutally mutilated body of the girl has been found while the youth is yet to be traced,” she said.
Police said they were investigating the case, which has provoked nationwide outrage, with “utmost urgency and seriousness.”
“We have formed several teams to identify and nab the accused. It won’t be long before they are caught,” DSP Singh said.
He said the girl belonged to the historically marginalized Dalit community, which is at the bottom of Hinduism’s rigid caste hierarchy and is often at the receiving end of violent caste-based discrimination.
Singh, however, said it was “unlikely that this was a caste-motivated assault.”
Fourth case in a month
The case is the fourth incident of sexual violence over the last month in Haryana, where the government recently hailed its “Save our Daughters” campaign, citing an improvement in the state’s gender ratio.
A 22-year-old woman was allegedly abducted and gang-raped for two hours in a moving vehicle in Faridabad, situated on the outskirts of Delhi, on Sunday, before being dumped on the highway.
An 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped and strangled to death when she went to dispose of garbage in Panipat town on Saturday.
And last month, a 6-year-old was allegedly raped and tortured to death in the state’s Hisar district.
“Such horrific incidents have brought shame to Haryana. The state government needs to do more to ensure safety for women. The state has to translate its words into action. Separate police teams should be constituted in each district of the state especially for the safety of women,” Anita Parashar, a Haryana-based women’s rights activist, told BenarNews.