The body of an eight-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped, was found near a drain in Bhopal on Sunday, police said.
Preliminary investigations revealed she died of strangulation after being raped, an officer said.
Six police officials have been suspended for dereliction of duty and a reward of Rs 20,000 has been declared for providing information to nab the accused, officials said.
The girl had ventured out of her house in Kamla Nagar area around 8 pm on Saturday to buy something. When she did not return, her family members approached the police that night, an officer said.
Inspector General (Bhopal zone) Yogesh Deshmukh told reporters that the police searched for the girl in the night and her body was found near a drain in the same area around 5 am on Sunday.
According to an initial post mortem report, the girl 'died of strangulation after rape', Additional Superintendent of Police Akhil Patel told PTI.
"We are waiting for a detailed report. We have identified an accused and a police team has launched a search for him."
Kamla Nagar police station in-charge Alok Shrivastava said the accused, Vishnu Mohare, in his mid-twenties, lived close to the girl's home. Six relatives of Mohare have been detained and interrogation is on, the officer said.
A constable was suspended after the girl's family alleged that the police did not act on their complaint after she went missing, Srivastava said.
The inspector general said a reward of Rs 20,000 had been announced for information that can lead to the arrest of the accused.
The girl's uncle said she went out to purchase gutkha, but never returned.
"We went to the police station, but they did not respond and even said that she must have gone away with someone," he said.
Later, he said, the family members searched for the girl at the railway station and in other areas of the city. They also contacted a local corporator, who alerted the police.
"The police personnel reached our locality late in the night, but they kept sitting there instead of looking for her," he said.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bala Bachchan told reporters on Sunday six police personnel, including an assistant sub-inspector, had been suspended for dereliction of duty.
"Police have identified the absconding accused and collected all the evidence. As many as 20 police teams are looking out for the accused whose location has been traced," Bachchan said.
Former chief minister Digvijaya Singh, newly-elected Bhopal BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, state ministers P C Sharma and Arif Aqueel visited the residence of the victim.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath expressed grief and directed officials to take strict action against the accused, and take steps to prevent such incidents in the future, said Narendra Saluja, Nath's media coordinator.
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopal Bhargava demanded Nath and Bachchan's resignation on moral grounds.
The Leader of Opposition in the assembly accused them of being directly responsible for what he claimed was the deteriorating law-and-order situation in the state.