Around 8.30 pm on Tuesday, 35-year-old Baburam set out with his torch to check on his two-bigha patch some 500 metres from his home in Katra Sadatganj village in UP’s Badaun district.
Baburam wanted to make sure cows had not trampled over his mint crop — and he carried the torch because the transformer in the village had blown out eight days earlier, and Katra Sadatganj had not had even its usual one daily hour of electricity ever since.
Baburam’s land is close to the large mango tree that Katra Sadatganj is often identified by — it is the only mango tree for several miles around, beloved of children who climb its branches, and revered as sacred by the villagers.
“I was walking back when I heard the screams of two girls. I flashed my torch around but couldn’t see anything at first. Then I saw movement, and Pappu Yadav and three other men. They were dragging one of my nieces by the hair,” Baburam said on Friday.
“I ran forward and hit Pappu. But he pulled out a gun and stuck it in my shoulder. He said he would kill me. I was scared, and I fled. I now wish I hadn’t,” Baburam said.
Two girls, cousins and minors, from the Dalit Maurya community were kidnapped, gangraped and hanged from Katra Sadatganj’s mango tree on Tuesday night. Based on Baburam’s testimony, three men, including a policeman, have been arrested. Brothers Pappu and Avdesh Yadav are accused of gangrape and kidnapping, and constable Sarvesh Yadav of conspiracy.
A third brother, Urvesh Yadav, and another policeman, head constable Chattrapal Singh, are absconding. The family of the Yadav brothers, which owns about four bighas of land in the village, has fled, and their house was on Friday guarded by a large number of policemen.
The UP Police have admitted “gross negligence” on their part. Politicians from the BJP, SP and BSP, and a team from the National Commission for Women have visited the village to assure the girls’ families of their support. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has said the incident was “unfortunate”.
Relatives of the victims have alleged that police at the local Ushait chowki had refused to act on their complaint, and threatened to kill them. Members of the girls’ families, including their mothers and brothers, had set out for the chowki soon after Baburam returned and announced what he had seen.
“We told constable Sarvesh Yadav that our girls had been missing for two hours, and that we wanted to lodge a report. He told us to go back home, and that the girls too would return in two hours. So, we left,” the mother of the younger girl said, breaking down in sobs.
Meanwhile, a group of men from the village went to the continued…