Three young sisters were raped and then killed in a village in western India, sparking public outrage in a country weary of the rampant and highly publicized sexual assaults in recent months.
The bodies of the three girls—aged 7, 9, and 11—were found on Feb. 16 in a village well in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra after they were reported missing from school two days earlier, reported The Associated Press, citing local officer Abhinav Deshmukh. However the story did not come to light until several days later.
The mother of the victims told AP that police did not take the case of the missing girls seriously, doing nothing in trying to find them until the villagers protested.
Police told broadcaster NDTV they recovered bottles of alcohol near where the slippers of the girls were found. The police also tried to downplay the deaths as a suicide, saying they suffered hunger and poverty.
But later, police superintendent Aarti Singh told AFP that “the post-mortem has confirmed that the girls were raped and then murdered.”
On Thursday, a group of angry villagers in Bhandara protested against the rape and murders, the Hindustan Times reported. Activists blocked the nearby local highway, while most of the schools and colleges remained closed, and shops remained shuttered.
On Thursday, it was reported that police began a manhunt for the perpetrators of the crime.
“The police launched a manhunt to nab the culprits while an amount of [50,000 rupees, or around $922] reward was announced for giving clues on the murderers,” Rajendra Singh, the regional inspector general, told the Times.
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