Updated: November 30, 2021 12:10:28 pm
While the eight upper caste members held for the murder of four of a Dalit family in Prayagraj district were released Monday, police have detained three Dalit youths. While one of them was sent to judicial custody on Monday, police sources said that the two others would be released soon.
Police officers did not confirm the evidence they had against the Dalit youth whom they now suspect of the crime, including rape, or any proof regarding alleged accomplices. The bodies of the four, including a couple and their children, had been found on Thursday at their home. Their relatives had accused 11 people of threatening the family, and police of helping them. An FIR naming the 11 was registered on Thursday, and police held eight upper caste members. Two police personnel were suspended after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited the family and the Yogi Adityanath government faced heat, with the Opposition accusing it of being “anti-Dalit”.
The Dalit youth’s family said he had been detained by police on Saturday evening. On Monday, the 19-year-old, who works as a labourer, was presented in court and sent to judicial custody. Two other youths from the 19-year-old’s village, located around 2 km from the murdered Dalit family’s, were picked up along with him. On Monday, their family members gathered outside the local police station asking when the two would be released.
An officer told The Indian Express that the two, 17 and 20, would be released soon as they had not found any evidence.
In a statement Sunday, ADG, Prayagraj zone, Prem Prakash had claimed that the 19-year-old was stalking the girl who was raped and killed. “He was harassing the girl… On the basis of the last message and circumstantial evidence, he was arrested.”
However, on Monday, a senior officer who is part of the probe told The Indian Express: “We have not had enough time with the accused as we have to oversee law and order too… We are awaiting forensic and DNA reports.” Pressed on the evidence so far, the officer said, “It is part of the investigation, I can’t reveal anything.”
On Monday, neither Prakash nor Prayagraj DIG Sarvashresht Tripathi could be reached for a comment. Tripathi was “on leave”.
The relatives of the murdered Dalit family said police were trying to protect the upper caste accused. “How can one boy (the 19-year-old) kill four people on his own? And if others were involved, where are they, who are they?… And if the boy had an issue with my niece, he would have killed her, why the other three?” said the brother of the man who was killed. While his niece who was raped and killed was earlier said to be a minor, police say they had found proof she was 23.
The elder sister of the 19-year-old held by police said he was being targeted “because he is Dalit and poor”. Contesting police claims of him stalking the woman, she said: “He was at home the day the murders took place… He is being made a scapegoat as police want to save the upper caste men,” she said.
The mother of the 17-year-old Dalit youth detained by police said: “My son cannot do something like this.”
The relatives of the murdered Dalit family said they are worried for their safety after the release of the upper caste members. “They will come back for revenge.”
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