A nine-year-old girl was allegedly raped, murdered, and forcibly cremated by four men in Delhi, India, on Sunday according to an account given by the girl’s mother to local police, OpIndia reported Wednesday.
The victim died on August 1 under mysterious circumstances in southwest Delhi’s Old Nangal Village. According to the victim’s mother, the girl left her family home on Sunday at 5:30 pm local time to collect water from a water cooler outside a crematorium across the street. Four men who worked at the crematorium and were known to the victim’s mother then allegedly approached the woman at her home at 6:00 p.m. They said her daughter was electrocuted while retrieving water from the cooler and died. The men also allegedly told the woman not to register a case with local police about her daughter’s death, as they would “send the body for an autopsy, where doctors will take out her vital organs and sell them,” Delhi police said this week.
The woman told police the men then “coerced” her and her husband into cremating her daughter’s body. The mother claimed the men lit her daughter’s funeral pyre before she had given consent, according to a report by the Indian Express.
“I was screaming and a few villagers saw and came to help me. We doused the fire but could only recover my daughter’s legs,” the woman said, according to the newspaper.
The victim’s mother and her husband informed local police of the alleged incident around 10:30 p.m. and the Delhi police force dispatched officers to the crematorium shortly afterward. The police then collected the girl’s remains and sent them to a medical panel for a post mortem examination, according to the Indian Express. The panel was unable to ascertain the victim’s cause of death, however, because the child’s body “had been pulled off the funeral pyre midway through the cremation, and only charred remains could be recovered.”
The victim’s cause of death and the sequence of events surrounding her demise have not yet been determined, Delhi police representatives said on Wednesday, adding that an investigation into the case is currently underway.
Delhi police have so far arrested four men — one Hindu priest at the crematorium and three other employees of the site — for their suspected connection to the girl’s death. The police force identified the detained suspects as Radhey Shyam, 55, (the priest); Kuldeep Kumar, 63; Laxmi Narain, 48; and Mohammed Salim, 49.
“We’ve registered [a] case on basis of the deceased’s mother,” Southwest Delhi Deputy Police Commissioner Ingit Pratap Singh told Asian News International in a statement on August 3.
“She alleged that her daughter was raped and casteist statements were made against them,” he revealed.
The victim was allegedly a “Dalit,” or a member of the lowest rung of India’s caste system.