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Protests in Delhi over alleged rape and murder of 9-year girl by priest

·3-min read

The alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in a city crematorium has sparked outrage in India’s capital. The incident has also put back the spotlight on lawlessness in Delhi where a woman was raped every five hours last year.

The girl’s mother told police her daughter had gone to the public crematorium near their home in south-west Delhi to fetch water Sunday where she was allegedly raped, killed and burnt on a pyre without her family’s consent.

The woman alleged she was called to the crematorium by four men who said the girl’s organs would be stolen by doctors conducting an autopsy if she reported the child’s death to the police.

“The accused should be burnt in the same way like my daughter,” the mother told local media after officers arrested a crematorium priest and three men and charged them with rape and murder.

Local police chief Ingit Pratap Singh said retrieved body parts were insufficient to determine the cause of the child’s death but added detectives had collected forensic clues from the site.

The suspects claimed the victim died of electrocution while using a water dispenser at the facility but officer Singh said the detained men could put through a lie detector to speed up investigations.

Politicians jump in

Opposition politicians were out in public on Wednesday to spur the protests in a sign of their growing animosity with India’s ruling BJP party government.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kewjriwal, a long-time critic of the BJP, offered 11,500 Euros in cash to the parents as he targeted the federal government which is in charge of policing the capital city of 20 million residents.

“My Delhi government will hire the best of best lawyers so that culprits pay for the crime they have committed,” Kejriwal told reporters on Wednesday.

“I will do everything possible to help the family in this fight for justice,” he Tweeted in Hindi and called out to the national government to gear up the city police force.

Rising sexual violence

Delhi last year led other Indian cities in terms of sexual atrocities with 1,699 reported rapes, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

The city saw a dip in the number of such attacks in 2020 largely due to stern lockdowns imposed in the city to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In 2019, India reported 87 rapes a day, the Bureau added in a report released last September but rights groups say 90 percent of sexual attacks in India go unreported.

The country also registered more than 4,00,000 cases of crime against women the same year, a jump of more than seven percent since 2018.

Gandhi backs anti-rape protests

Rahul Gandhi from India’s largest opposition Congress party also visited the home of the dead girl in Delhi’s Purana Nangal district where protesters were out in numbers.

“The family wants justice and nothing else and they say they have been denied justice,” Gandhi said at the protest site.

“I will stand by her parents as long as they do not get justice,” Gandhi added.

Other regional groups also demanded death penalty for the suspects.

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra accused opposition groups of using the girl’s alleged rape and murder to fire up their anti-government rhetoric.

“This is the lowest level of politics,” Patra added.

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