A candlelight vigil calling for justice for the two-year-old girl murdered in Aligarh passed through the centre of the village in the evening. As police began to verify more facts about the murder, the family kept thinking of the debt that allegedly cost the girl her life.
The girl was killed allegedly by two men who kidnapped her from outside her home on May 30, and disposed of her body in a garbage dump. The motive is suspected to be a monetary dispute between one of the accused and the girl’s grandfather.
The victim’s family had recently moved to Aligarh. The family said the girl was born following five years of prayers and treatment, after the mother had lost a child during pregnancy. The father, involved in farming work, said they lived a content life. The child’s mother and other relatives said that financial matters were decided by the grandfather, and he barely discussed these matters with others.
“He had given Rs 50,000 to the accused 1.5 years ago. We were not told much about it since he takes all the decisions. We didn’t question it either. Little did we know that a small amount of money would cost us so much,” said a relative.
The grandfather said he was ready to let go of the remaining debt of Rs 10,000, and did not heed a warning by the accused during a chance meeting days before the murder. “When I saw him on the street, he got a little agitated. I have no ill feelings towards anyone. Even when she was kidnapped, I never thought he would do it. It struck us later,” said the grandfather, sitting under a makeshift tent outside his house. This was the spot from where the girl was allegedly kidnapped a week ago.
“The stench of the body is still in my head. It was being pulled apart by dogs, and the cleaner spotted it. All of us rushed along with the family. The sight was unbearable. The family deserves justice,” said the village pradhan.
Villagers said the criminal record of the other accused was well known. In one alleged incident, he could be seen dragging and beating his wife outside his house. According to police, he was also booked for allegedly raping his daughter in 2014.
“He beat her (wife) with sticks and she was in a bad state… We intervened and managed to prevent more injury. He was a problem for all of us,” said the pradhan.
The two-year-old’s family recalled a child full of energy. “She was very friendly and talkative. She had an answer for everything, even when she could barely speak,” said a relative.
On Friday, the narrow lanes that were her playground were thronged by policemen and an anxious crowd.
When asked about the Aligarh murder case, Uttar Pradesh Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi told the media that such incidents happen, but strict action is taken against them.
Shahi said, “Dekhiye, ye ghatnayein ho jaati hain. Lekin aisi ghatnao ke khilaaf sakhti se hum karyawahi karte hain. Kuch mansikta bhi iske saath hoti hai (Such incidents happen. But we take strict action against such cases. People’s mentality is also somewhat responsible for this).”
When contacted, he said, “I did not make any controversial statement, and it was run in bits and pieces. What I said is that sometimes such incidents happen because of bad mentality, but we take strict action on them. I did not say anything wrong.”