A 50-year-old anganwadi worker was gang-raped and brutally murdered allegedly by a priest and his two accomplices in Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh, police said on Wednesday.
Two of the accused were arrested on Tuesday night after the post-mortem report confirmed rape while the priest is on the run, they said, adding that the woman's leg and a rib bone were fractured and there were injuries in her private parts.
The incident, which triggered an instant hue and cry in the political circles, took place on Sunday and the matter came to light when her body was brought home at night. The FIR was registered two days later following which the duo was nabbed.
Opposition parties attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state and termed the incident "horrific" and "shameful", with the Congress comparing it to the Nirbhaya incident of 2012.
"The post-mortem report confirms rape and there are injuries in her private parts and a fracture in the leg," Senior Superintendent of Police Sankalp Sharma said. She suffered from a rib fracture too, he said, citing the autopsy report.
He said the station house officer of Ughaiti police station has been suspended for "delay in informing higher authorities, laxity in taking action, dereliction of duty and failure in taking speedy action".
"On Sunday, the 50-year-old woman, who had gone to a temple, was found dead under mysterious circumstances. Family members of the woman have accused the temple mahant (priest) and his accomplices of raping and murdering her. Based on this, a case was registered against the accused. Two of the accused persons were arrested on Tuesday night, while the mahant is still absconding," he said.
Four teams have been formed to nab the priest, the SSP said.
The case was registered yesterday after the post-mortem report came.
"Based on complaints of the family members and the post-mortem report, a case has been registered under section 376D (gang-rape) and 302 (punishment for murder) of IPC," the SSP said.
He said that opinion on the post-mortem report is being sought from medical experts and after that only any conclusion can be reached.
To a specific question as to whether the case bore any resemblance to the horrific Nirbhaya rape case, the SSP said, "It will be wrong to link this incident to any previous incident. Let's wait for the medical examination report."
CMO Budaun Dr Yashpal Singh said the woman died of trauma and excessive bleeding.
The victim's son said his mother had gone to offer prayers at the temple on Sunday but she did not return home within expected time. It was only around 11 pm that the temple priest and two of his aides came to their house and handed over her body, he said.
Before the family members could ask how she died, the accused left the house saying that she had fallen in a dry well and her body was pulled out and brought to her home.
He said police was informed on Monday.
Budaun District Magistrate Kumar Prashant said, "Whatever help can be given from the department, it will be given. She was an anganwadi sahayika. We are also paying attention towards the security of the family."
He too shared the CMO's opinion.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the Congress's general secretary incharge of Uttar Pradesh, hit out at the Yogi Adityanath government, alleging that there was something wrong in the intentions of the Uttar Pradesh administration on the issue of women's security.
Tagging a media report, Gandhi tweeted: "In Hathras, the government administration did not listen to the voice of those pleading. The government saved officials and suppressed the victim's voice."
“In Budaun, the police station officer did not listen to the one pleading and did not even examine the place of the incident. There is something wrong in the UP government's intentions on women's security," she added.
Party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala termed the incident "horrific" and "shameful for humanity".
"How many more Nirbhayas? How much more of this monstrosity (haivaaniyat)? When will the Adityanath government wake up? Where are our awakened journalists," he said in a tweet in a hindi.
Taking to Twitter, Samajwadi Party said, "Fifty-year-old anganwadi assistant, who had gone to offer prayers at a temple in Budaun, gang-raped and subsequently murdered. Those in power who only make false claims of women security should drown themselves. The guilty should be punished at the earliest, and justice should prevail."
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati termed the incident as "extremely saddening" and "highly condemnable".
In a tweet in Hindi, she said, "The state government should take the incident seriously and ensure stringent punishment to the guilty so that such cases are not repeated. This is the demand of the BSP."
The Budaun incident comes months after a Dalit woman from Hathras was allegedly raped by four men on September 14 and died on September 29 at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital.