Bhandara city and its adjoining villages and towns observed a total bandh called by the BJP on Wednesday to protest the gruesome rape and murders of three sisters. As The Indian Express met the mother of the three girls, she said the perpetrator(s) should not be hanged. Instead, she wants to set them afire herself in front of the entire village. “I want to do it myself. It’s my right,” she said.
Her daughters aged six, nine and 10 were studying in class one, four and five, respectively. They had gone missing on February 14 and were found dead in a farm about two km away on February 16. Post-mortem reports had confirmed sexual assault and murder.
The police detained a few persons for interrogation, one of them being the family’s tenant. SP Arti Singh said, “The perpetrator could be a close acquaintance. The youngest one was apparently very fond of the tenant.”
“All three had left for school around 10.30 am. The eldest returned after some time, changed clothes and went for a bicycle ride,” said the mother. Asked if she had met the girl when she returned, the mother said, “No. I was working in the backyard. Even the grandparents hadn’t seen her. The neighbourers told us so.”
Her daughter’s friends said that she had taken her sisters away from school saying their mother had called them to eat hurda (roasted and salted jowar grains). The girls never returned home.
The two younger sisters were last seen by a kirana shopkeeper. “They came to my shop first with a Rs 10 note and then with a Rs 100 note to buy chocolates. I wondered where they had got so much money from,” he said.
The family is angry with the police. “We went to register complaint at 9 pm after searching them at various places. They registered the complaint after four hours, wasting vital time. Had they immediately started the search, my daughters could have been saved,” the mother said. The local police inspector has been suspended.
It isn’t, however, clear when the murders took place. “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,” said Civil Surgeon R B Chahande.
A widow since past five years, the mother said she was surviving on government’s niradhar yojana aid of Rs 600 per month. “I was working in a papad factory, but it closed down,” she said. The administration has declared an aid of Rs 10 lakh for the family.
This article originally appeared on indianexpress