It’s been just two months since the gang rape of a medical student in Delhi shocked the world, and now another horrific sex crime has sparked outrage in India — again, with police slow to react.
The bodies of three young sisters, reported missing on February 14, were discovered two days later in a well near the Bhandara district in the state of Maharashtra.
A full week after their disappearance, it has come to light that the sisters, aged 6, 8, and 11, were raped and murdered.
Here’s what you should know about this gruesome crime and its fallout.
1.The Police First Ruled the Deaths Accidental
After the police discovered the three bodies, they recorded the deaths as “accidental.” It wasn’t until the villagers blocked the national highway on Wednesday in protest against the police’s actions that the state home minister RPN Singh finally took notice and ordered a full investigation. “We have asked the Maharashtra government to send a report about the unfortunate incident,” Singh told the Times of India.
2. Autopsies Show the Girls Were Raped First
Autopsies conducted this week confirmed the girls were raped first before they were killed. According to the Indian Express, police are still unclear on when the murders took place.
Civil Surgeon R B Chahande said:
We have sent the visceras for chemical analysis. All we know is sexual assault did take place. We will have to wait for forensic report to guess the exact time of assault. The only thing we can say is death wasn’t by drowning.
3. No Arrests Have Been Made
Police have identified some suspects, including the family’s tenant. Arti Singh, the district superintendent of the police, told the Indian Express that there’s a possibility that the perpetrator may be someone close to the families. “We’ve got some strong, solid indications [about the suspects], and we’re working very hard,” she said.
4. The State Government Tried to Pay Off the Victim’s Families
The state government offered compensation of one million rupees ($18,300) to the family, but the victim’s mother refused to take it. She told the Guardian:
No amount of money is going to bring my girls back. I appeal to the government to catch the culprits early and hang them.
5. A Cop Was Suspended for Poor Judgement
The victim’s family has been angry with the police for not taking immediate action on the case ever since they filed a missing person’s report. The mother told IBTimes India:
The first day when we filed the complaint, the police didn’t act on it. Had they looked for the girls, my girls would have been found. This is nothing but negligence.
NDTV reported that a local cop was suspended for causing a delay in filing a report, and the police formed six teams to launch a manhunt and find some leads on the case.