Uttar Pradesh: SONAM, 14, Raped and murdered
When Tarannum sent her 14-year-old daughter Sonam to look for the family’s buffalo calf, she didn’t know that Sonam would never return home.
“At noon, the cattle came back, but there was no sign of Sonam. So I went looking for her.”
For the next couple of hours, Tarannum walked the narrow lanes of Nighasan village – 150km (100 miles) from the state capital, Lucknow – calling out Sonam’s name and asking the neighbours if they had seen the girl.
Her search ended at the police station, right in front of her house.
“I stood on a platform near the police station so I could look over the boundary wall. There I saw her kneeling on the ground, with her scarf tied around her neck. And it looked like she was hanging from a tree.”
Attracted by her shrieks, several villagers came running, but no-one had the courage to enter the police station. “But I couldn’t hold myself back: I had to go in, it was my daughter,” says Tarannum, wiping her tears with her sari.
“As soon as I touched her, she tumbled over. She was cold, her eyes were wide open, her teeth gritted. I started screaming and the policemen came out of their quarters. I told them: ‘Sir, look, what has happened to my daughter’.”
The policemen, she says, abused her: “They called me names. They said take the body and go away. Otherwise, they said, they would throw us out.”
After protests by villagers, the police registered a case several hours later. At first, they tried to pass it off as a case of suicide and the first post-mortem report ruled out rape or murder.
Following days of protests, the government ordered a second post-mortem which confirmed the murder.
All 11 policemen, including the officer in charge of the police station, were suspended hours after the crime. The superintendent of police of the district was also suspended.
Two policemen were later arrested – one is charged with murder while the other is accused of destruction of evidence.
According to her family, Sonam was also raped. Tarannum cleaned her body and says she found semen in her daughter’s vagina. The authorities also now say one of the arrested policemen has admitted attempting to rape Sonam.