A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the murder of four siblings of an adivasi family in Jalgaon district, police said Friday. The man, who was known to the family and raped the oldest child, was arrested after a positive DNA match, police said.
The accused, a resident of Kerhale village at Raver taluka, was arrested Thursday for murdering, inflicting fatal injury on a girl while committing rape and trespassing into a house having already prepared to hurt its occupants, said Pravin Mundhe, Superintendent of Police, Jalgaon, said at a press conference Friday.
The children — two girls aged 6 and 13, and two boys aged 8 and 11 — were struck on their necks with an axe on October 15. The alleged murder weapon was recovered from their house, Mundhe said. Last Friday, police had identified and detained three suspects, including a minor, in the case, following alleged confessions. Police had initially claimed that certain forensic evidence pointed towards their involvement but had to let them go after they did not find any conclusive matches.
The minor children were alone in their house at Borkheda Shivar village after their parents, cultivators on a banana farm, along with their eldest son had travelled to their native village in Madhya Pradesh to attend a funeral of a family member. The family lives in a small house on their landlord’s farm.
According to police, the accused lives a few kilometres away from Borkheda Shivar and cultivates a plot of land. “He belongs to the same tribal community as the deceased. The parents of the children knew him and had asked him to keep an eye on them when they left for MP last week,” said Narendra Pingle, Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Faizpur division.
The accused, a friend of the deceased 11-year-old boy, had slept in their house on October 15 night. “He woke up after a couple of hours and sexually assaulted the 13-year-old girl before killing her and her minor siblings,” said a senior police official. A villager also saw the accused washing his hands outside the house some time later, the official added.
The bodies of the children were found the next morning by the landlord who went to their home at 8 am to enquire why they hadn’t still woken up.
A post-mortem conducted at Jalgaon Government Medical College earlier this week revealed that the 13-year-old girl was sexually assaulted, Mundhe said.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by Assistant Superintendent of Police Kumar Chintha and Pingle, was set up to probe the crime. A total of 70 police personnel, including some from neighbouring districts of Dhule, Nandurbar and Nashik Rural, were a part of the probe team. The SIT recorded statements of 54 witnesses.
The accused, who had not fled the area, was among those whose semen samples police had collected and sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Nashik. On Thursday, police took the 20-year-old man into custody after the FSL reported that his sample had matched the semen on the body and clothes of the 13-year-old girl.
Police then added offences of sexual harassment, penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act to its FIR.
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