Srinagar, India: Indian police have arrested a woman and four others after her nine-year-old stepdaughter was allegedly gang-raped, murdered and mutilated, in the latest horrific crime to shock the country.
The child's decomposed body was found on Tuesday hidden behind bushes about a kilometre from her home in the Baramulla district of Indian-administered Kashmir, police said.
Her father had reported her missing 12 days earlier.
Police said the woman, aged 36, was jealous of her stepdaughter and of her husband's second wife, and on August 24 took the girl to a forested area.
There she allegedly directed her own 14-year-old son and his two teenage friends, aged 14 and 19, to take turns in raping the child.
The stepmother is accused of then strangling the girl while her son hit the child on the head with an axe.
His friend brought vehicle battery acid from home and sprinkled it on the body while another friend gouged out her eyes before dumping the corpse in the bushes.
A 28-year-old man has also been arrested over the case.
"Physical condition and preliminary forensic analysis of dead body substantiated all these facts," said a police statement issued on Tuesday.
Local police Superintendent Imtiyaz Hussain told AFP the teenage offenders have confessed to the crime and separately corroborated the facts during questioning.
"They will be sent to a juvenile home and dealt with according to the state's juvenile law," Hussain said.
Social media users were shocked by the details of the case.
She was 9 yr old.— Kumar Manish (@kumarmanish9) September 5, 2018
....It was Kaiser who first raped her and then all others, including her step-brother took turns to rape the girl.Thereafter the step-mother strangulated the girl & her step-brother hit her head with axe, killing her on spot. #Kashmir https://t.co/HVlZyjOYSm
A soul tormenting report about the rape & murder of a 9-year old girl in a border village of Kashmir. How does one commit such atrocities? How terrible can we humans be? #Trikanjan #Uri https://t.co/O13GuHjMtR— Salman Anees Soz (@SalmanSoz) September 5, 2018
In a tweet, the Director General of Police of the state compared the case to that of Asifa, getting a response from social media users asking him not to compare tragedies.
A bone chilling story of gang rape and murder of a 9 year old girl in #Uri by her step brother and 2 other accused instigated by her step mother. A case worse than Asifa of Rasana Kathua. @JmuKmrPolice has solved the case and arrested all the accused.
— Shesh Paul Vaid (@spvaid) September 4, 2018
With all due respect, Sir, no two cases of child sexual exploitation and brutal murder can be compared. All crimes are heinous and especially more so, when committed against innocent children.— Poulomi Saha (@PoulomiMSaha) September 4, 2018
However, most tweets were in support of the quick action taken by the police department, which solved the case in 48 hours.
A video being shared by many online shows Jammu and Kashmir police officer, Hussain Imtiyaz, giving an update to the media on the case. In the video, he called the incident “unimaginable and unacceptable”, and urged people to change the violent behaviour that he said seems to have become part of society.
Moving. Top @JmuKmrPolice cop SSP Baramulla @hussain_imtiyaz breaks down while narrating the details of horrific rape and murder of a 9 year old girl in Boniyar, Uri of North Kashmir. Kudos to J&K Police for arresting all accused including step mother and brother within 48 hours. pic.twitter.com/1rkawcvYZD— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) September 4, 2018