HW English

Aligarh murder accused arrested earlier for sexually assaulting minor; 2 more held

Aligarh | Police on Saturday arrested two more people for the murder of a toddler here and confirmed one of the men booked earlier for the crime is an alleged sex offender who has targeted children in recent years.

The wife and brother of Zahid, one of the two main accused, were picked up this morning by the special investigation team formed to probe the killing of the two-and-a-half-year-old girl in Tappal township. “They were later arrested,” a senior police official said. After the fresh arrests, the total number of people arrested in the case has gone to four.

Other than the 27-year-old Zahid, police arrested Aslam, 43, on Tuesday after the girl’s decomposed body was found in a garbage dump around 200 metres from her home. The body was discovered on June 2, three days after she was reported missing.

The girl’s father alleged she was killed because he failed to repay Rs 10,000 taken as loan from the accused. Aslam was charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act in 2014 and 2017, police said. He has also faced charges under Uttar Pradesh’s Goonda Act. The second POCSO case, in Delhi’s Gokulpuri, also involved the abduction of the minor.

Aligarh SSP Akash Kulhari confirmed one of the two accused had a criminal history. Two separate cases of POCSO are pending against him and he had gone to jail in connection with an abduction case in Delhi, the SSP said. Kulhari said officials probing the Aligarh case are looking into the phone records of all suspects.

“The police are in the process of building a water-tight case against the accused so that it stands all legal scrutiny and speedy justice is delivered through a fast-track court. We are checking phone records of all suspects to trace the crime trail,” he said.

Kulhari, who camped in the area till late Friday, warned mischief mongers that strong action would be taken if they try to spread rumours through social media.

Tension had prevailed in the area after the victim’s family alleged that police officials delayed the registration of their complaint and the investigation. Five policemen have been suspended for negligence and Kulhari Friday assured the locals that justice would be done in the case.

The SSP reiterated that the postmortem examination by a panel of three doctors found “no evidence of sexual assault” but police were taking no chances and forensic experts are examining vaginal swabs for any further evidence.

The incident has triggered massive outrage. Political leaders and celebrities have tweeted their angst and disgust over the crime.

Aligarh city witnessed candlelight protests over the murder. Teachers and students at Aligarh Muslim University have demanded “exemplary and prompt” punishment for the perpetrators.

At a special meeting of its executive, the AMU Teachers Association demanded that a fast-track court be immediately set up to try the case. AMUTA secretary Nazmul Hasan said in a press release the teachers stood by the victim’s family.

Former president of AMU students union Faizul Hasan said the law should be amended so that convicts of such crime face “punishment as stringent as that in Saudi Arabia”.

ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said Friday, “As of now sexual assault is not ruled out. Vaginal swabs have been sent for forensic examination.”

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