A medical board comprising three doctors formed to look into the cause of death of a nine-year-old Dalit girl at a crematorium in Southwest Delhi is learnt to have informed police that they were unable to ascertain the cause of death. The girl’s body had been pulled off the funeral pyre midway through the cremation, and only charred remains could be recovered.
Police have arrested four men, including a 55-year-old priest, in connection with the girl’s death and are likely to conduct a polygraph test in the coming days, it is learnt.
On Sunday evening, the girl had gone to get water from a cooler at a crematorium near her house. Police said that around 30 minutes later, the priest, Radhey Shyam, and two-three other people known to the girl’s mother called her and showed her the girl’s body, claiming that was electrocuted while getting water.
The girl’s parents claim Shyam coerced them to cremate her body, and the mother also alleged that she suspects her daughter was raped before being killed.
The parents and local residents staged a protest in the area on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the girl’s mother also alleged that upper caste men from the village had been forcing them not to inform police. “I sent her to get cold water from the cremation ground. After some time, Radhe Shyam and a few other men called me to the ground and showed me her body. Her lips were blue. They said she died of electrocution but before I could see her body again, they surrounded me and asked me to cremate her immediately. I protested but they told me that the police and doctors will file a case against me and will steal her organs. They made me sit in a corner. I know they raped my girl; they never even talk to us. Why were they in a hurry to cremate her?” she alleged.
The woman alleged the men didn’t take her permission before lighting the pyre. “I was screaming and a few villagers saw and came to help me. We doused the fire but could only recover my daughter’s legs,” she said.
The girl’s father said he was not around at the time. “I couldn’t even see my daughter after her death. I reached the ground at 7.30 pm and saw my neighbours and friends pulling her legs from the pyre. We tried to lodge a complaint but the men here are threatening me. Some of them even offered me Rs 20,000 to withdraw the complaint,” he alleged.
Said a senior officer: “The body was taken off the pyre but most of it was burnt. A post-mortem was conducted on Tuesday and the medical board informed police that they were unable to ascertain the cause of death,” a police officer said.
“The four accused have denied their involvement in her death, and claim she arrived at 5.30 pm and and was dead within the next 30 minutes, following which Radhey Shyam informed her mother and Laxmi Narain went to pick up her father,” the officer said, adding that a PCR call was received at 10.30 pm.
“Based on the girl’s mother’s statement, an FIR was registered under IPC sections 304-A (causing death by negligence), 201 (destruction of evidence), and 342 (wrongful restraint). Later, when speaking to the SC/ST commission, she alleged that her daughter was raped and casteist statements were made against them. Sections under the POCSO Act, SC/ST Act, and IPC sections 302, 376, and 506 were then added to the FIR,” a senior police officer said.