A day after bodies of two Dalit girls, aged 13 and 16, were found in the family’s fields in Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, along with a 17-year-old in a serious condition, the police Thursday said that the post-mortem report had not found any injuries and was inconclusive on the cause of death. The eldest girl, who continues to be critical, is being treated for poisoning.
An FIR was lodged Thursday under IPC Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (destruction of evidence) against unidentified persons, based on the family’s complaint.
Senior police officers said no evidence had been found of sexual assault and they were probing all angles, including of honour killing and suicide pact. An officer said they were examining why the family did not call the police on discovering the girls.
The wheat fields where the three girls, who were cousins, were discovered Wednesday evening are around 800 metres from their homes. The families are daily wage workers and own less than 1 bigha each in the village dominated by Brahmins, with Dalits forming the smallest numbers by caste.
The mother of the 16-year-old told The Indian Express that the three had left to collect fodder as they did every day. “They did not return, and around 6 pm, we started looking for them.
They were found nearby around 7 pm and we took them to a private doctor, who referred them to the Community Health Centre (CHC). The hands of the girls were tied to their neck with a chunni when I saw them,” said the mother, 55, adding they had not noticed anything amiss about the girls recently.
From the CHC, the girls were taken to the Unnao District Hospital, which referred them to a private hospital in Kanpur, where they were admitted “around 11 pm”.
Unnao SP Sureshrao A Kulkarni said the last rites of the two girls will be held on Friday morning. A police officer said the family wanted to wait for some relatives.
In a statement, Uttar Pradesh DGP HC Awasthy said, “Information was received about two girls being dead and one being unconscious. Senior police officers reached the spot and found that the three had gone to collect fodder. The families found them and took them to the CHC, where two of them were declared brought dead.”
Awasthy said a panel of doctors had conducted the post-mortem. “It was found that their bodies did not have any antemortem injuries. Regarding the cause of death, the report says it could not be ascertained and the viscera has been preserved for chemical analysis.”
The CHC entry records show that two girls were brought dead while the third was in a “gasping condition”, a doctor at the centre told The Indian Express. “The records say that the one who survived was foaming from the mouth and was gasping. No injury was found on her,” the doctor said.
A health bulletin issued by the hospital where the 17-year-old is being treated said that “on primary assessment she was found in shock… a suspected case of poisoning”. Her “condition remains critical, but stable”.
SP Kulkarni told The Indian Express that if “the girls were tied up, some injuries would have shown in the post-mortem”. “Even in the complaint submitted by the family, they only said that the chunni was around the neck, not that they were tied up,” said the SP.
A senior police officer who is part of the probe team told The Indian Express that the post-mortem had ruled out sexual assault or strangulation, and found no injuries to the body or any organ. “A pungent-smelling substance was found in the stomach of the two girls… Doctors suspect it could be a poisonous substance,” said the officer.
The officer said it was a local who had called the police on spotting the families carrying the girls from the fields. “The family is not giving us clear information,” said the officer.
Inspector General (Lucknow Range) Laxmi Singh said they are hoping the 17-year-old would shed light on what happened. “We have spoken to the doctors and they are hopeful she may recover.”
An uncle of the girls said he saw them when they were carried home from the fields. “When I saw them, their hands were not tied,” he said. The mother of the 13-year-old said she had not seen the girls after they were found, and hence could not say if they were tied up. “They were taken to the hospital straightaway.”
The family said they had no enmity with anyone and suspected no one. “We have no enemies,” said the mother.
While the mother of the 16-year-old accused the police of taking away four family members, IG Laxmi Singh said they needed a relative to be present for the post-mortem. “We have not detained anyone from the family,” she said.
Leaders of several parties, including the Bhim Army, former minister Sudhir Rawat, MLC Sunil Singh Sajan, BSP MLA Anil Kumar Singh and BJP MLA Brijesh Rawat, visited the village Thursday.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called the incident tragic, tweeting, “DGP, UP has been instructed to submit a report… It is being ensured that the girl gets the best treatment with no charges.”
BSP chief Mayawati demanded a high-level probe. SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said, “First, it was Hathras’s daughter, then Badaun’s mother and now Unnao’s sisters. No woman is safe in BJP rule…”
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said, “… the victim’s family has been detained, according to news… The UP government is requested to listen to the whole family and shift the third child to Delhi for treatment.”