Tension mounted in the migrant pockets of Surat after a labour hand from Bihar was named by police as a suspect in the rape and murder of a toddler whose body was discovered Monday. The incident follows protests and attacks on migrants in Gujarat following the rape of an infant by a man from Bihar earlier this month.
In Vadodara Monday evening, six construction workers and a civil engineer, all from Bihar, were assaulted for “wearing lungi”. Industrial Surat, which draws workers from across the country, had so far remained calm.
On Tuesday, Surat City Police personnel headed to Bihar to track down the suspect in the rape and murder of a three-year-old girl. Her family, incidentally, also migrated to Surat from Maharashtra. Since the girl was a Dalit, Scheduled Caste groups have taken up the matter, and have held protests, demanding the arrest of the suspect.
Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma said, “We have identified the suspect and sent our teams to Bihar to locate him. We have also made different teams to trace the accused in neighbouring areas… We have added sections like rape, murder, atrocity and POCSO.” Appealing to people to remain calm, Sharma said they had deployed extra police personnel.
The girl disappeared while playing outside her house Sunday evening. The next day, her body was found in a gunny bag from a neighbouring unit that had been rented by the 22-year-old suspect. The postmortem revealed that she had been raped too. A neighbour, also from Maharashtra, said the suspect had joined the search when the girl was reported missing. He said the suspect had moved into the building only a month ago and worked as a labour hand for a paints contractor.
Police sources said the suspect left home Monday morning and switched off his mobile phone. The door of his room, sources said, had to be forced open. In Vadodara, police said six workers and a civil engineer, all from Bihar, newly engaged to construct a primary school building in the city, were assaulted Monday evening.
According to police, one of them, wearing a lungi, was accosted by prime accused, Keyur Parmar (27), and two others who began abusing and questioning his choice of clothes. They were said to have threatened the other labour hands too. Later, they returned and allegedly set ablaze a motorcycle. Following a complaint, Parmar was arrested while efforts were on to trace the remaining two with him.
— With ENS, Vadodara