Police in central India have launched a hunt for the men suspected of raping and killing three sisters, aged five to 11. Their deaths are the latest in a series of incidents of sexual violence in the country.
The bodies of the sisters were found in a village well near Nagpur on 14 February after they had gone missing from school, police officer Javed Ahmed told the Associated Press. The village is located about 630 miles from Delhi.
The police’s handling of the case has outraged residents who have blocked a highway that passed through the village to demand justice. The incident came two months after the gang-rape and murder of a student in Delhi shocked the nation.
The young mother of the three girls has demanded the death sentence for the killers. “There is no point in leaving the culprits alive. They should be arrested and hanged in front of people for this heinous crime,” she told reporters.
The woman, a labourer, who lost her husband four years ago, has also been trying to push the police to do more. She has appealed to the chief minister of the state, who has promised compensation.
Senior officers are now monitoring the local investigation and have offered a reward of R50,000 (£600) for anyone who provides information that leads to arrests. But the villagers say the police had initially refused to even register a complaint.
“There were no external injuries on the bodies when fished out of the well. Even the clothes were intact. We did not suspect anything and were waiting for the post-mortem report,” said a senior officer.
The incident took place Lakhni village in the Bhandara district. The grandfather of the girls said the oldest child – the 11-year-old - had gone to fetch her younger sisters from school last Thursday afternoon. He thought they were coming home “but someone took them away”.
“My granddaughters were probably lured away on the promise of chocolates or Kurkure [cheese puffs]. Please find [the perpetrators] and hang them,” he said.