The 16-year-old minor Muslim girl had gone to her friend’s home in Bihar’s Katihar district when she was kidnapped. When the eleventh class student did not return home on the evening of May 24, her family started to look for her in the village.
Soon, a missing complaint was filed at the nearby Azamnagar police station.
Early in the morning, the family was informed that the girl was last seen in a Hindu neighbour’s house where later, she was found laying in the bed, dead.
“Her dead body was in a horrible condition. Her ankles were broken and she had marks around her neck,” said Wajhul Qamar, her cousin.
Qamar accused that the minor girl was kidnapped, raped and killed by the village head’s 29-year-old brother, Kusum Lal Vishwas while the body was found in their neighbour, Rekha Devi’s house, who allegedly was also a part of the crime and was present in the house when the family went looking for the girl.
While the police arrested Devi immediately, no immediate action was taken against Vishwas.
In a statement, the police said that a case of murder was registered under sections 302, 201, 120-B and section 24 of the Indian penal code.
“Her ankles were fractured. She was kept hidden there with the purpose of disposing of her body later,” said Qamar, adding that many liquor bottles and several slippers were found near the girl’s dead body. “This looked like their plan.”
Vishwas and the girl had come to know each other about two years ago when a Vishwas’s cousin who was also the girl’s friend introduced them to each other. Since then, the two had been in touch with each other.
“You can call it an affair. Her parents had tried to make her understand that it wasn’t right but nobody knew that they were still in contact,” Qamar said.
While a post-mortem was conducted on the dead body of the minor girl, the family accused that the details about the rape were missing in the reports.
The post-mortem report said that the girl died due to “asphyxia as a result of hanging” and that there was no sign of recent sexual intercourse.
After continuous protests by all religious communities in the village, following an order by the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, the authorities decided to once again conduct a postmortem Vishwas was finally arrested on May 27.
“They have strong political connections and they are trying to hide the rape, even the police doesn’t agree that it was a rape,” he said.
“But her body was clearly in a condition where it was evident that she was raped.”
As the protests in the village, Qamar said the family does not want to cause communal tension but wanted to seek justice for the girl and safety for other women in the community.
In her statement to the police on May 26, the mother of the victim Nahida Khatoon stated that the daughter of accused Rekha Devi did not tell them anything about the missing girl when asked. As per the family, Devi’s daughter was a friend of the victim.
According to Two Circles, Mahboob Alam, a CPIML MLA, who was also part of the protest, accused the local police of ‘deliberate negligence as they did not pay any heed to the requests of the victim’s family.’
“If this continues to happen, how will girls remain safe? We don’t want to give this the Hindu-Muslim angle,” he said.
“This is unacceptable, no matter what the religion is.”