Four days after a young Dalit girl’s alleged rape and murder in Delhi and her cremation without her family’s consent, the police have yet to establish the cause of her death. The crime has provoked spiraling shock and anger and has also drawn the attention of political parties in the middle of a tense parliament session.
The child’s tiny rented home in a village in southwest Delhi is suddenly at the centre of media attention with politicians like Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, Trinamool Congress leaders and others visiting the grieving parents.
On Sunday, the nine-year-old daughter of rag pickers went to a crematorium near her home to fetch drinking water but she never returned. She was allegedly gang-raped and murdered.
The family had gone to a local shrine and after their return, the girl’s father had asked her to get some chilled water from a cooler at the crematorium. Around 6 pm, some people went to her home and told her mother that a priest at the crematorium, Radhe Shyam, wanted to talk to her.
When she reached, she saw the body of her daughter, allegedly with wounds all over, a cut, black lip and “her tongue blue”.
She was told the child had been electrocuted. The priest allegedly went on to burn the body and ignored her pleading. She was the last to see the body.
“I was about to come back for help when he dragged me back and locked the door. No one could hear me shouting,” the mother told NDTV.
“He told me go home and sleep…don’t shout and cry about it.”
The priest and three others have been arrested and face charges under stringent laws that include sections on child sex abuse and crimes against scheduled castes and tribes.
The child’s family alleges she was raped and killed. A senior police officer said today the postmortem was inconclusive and the four accused would face lie detector and drug tests.
The woman said when she first saw the body, she was in shock.
“I asked how she died. I told them to dial ‘100’ and call the police. He (the priest) refused,” said the mother.
“He pressured me to cremate the body immediately. He said if you call the cops there will be a long court case, my daughter would be taken to the hospital where the police and doctors would take out her organs and sell them. He said he would perform the cremation himself as I couldn’t afford it.”
As the body was burnt, the family was kept away by the staff and asked to return the next morning for the child’s ashes.
“My daughter has been raped. They made us sit aside, asking us to stay away as the flames were intense.”
The woman rushed out crying and her family tried to put out the funeral pyre but it was too late. “I was told to return at 8 am to collect the ashes. I ran out and got my family…they tried to put out the fire using buckets of water,” the mother wept.
Only the girl’s feet could be salvaged.
In their extreme distress, the girl’s parents were taken to the police station. “We were beaten by the police. My husband and I were kept in separate rooms,” the mother claimed.
But the police say they followed procedure.
Ingit Pratap Singh, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East Delhi), told NDTV: “We needed to get her statement, wait for a social worker till 3 am and take it in front of a magistrate and that naturally took time. Only you are saying that we kept until next day but it was less than 24 hours.”
He also said the water cooler at the crematorium was found to have an electric current passing through it.
“Forensic examination of the water cooler found an electric current… In the beginning, the girl’s family said death was due to electrocution. Accused have also admitted death occurred due to electric current,” the senior cop told NDTV, adding that tests will also be conducted on the accused’s clothes.
“We will present the charge sheet soon… there is 60 days to present it,” he said.