03 Apr 2021: UP: Man accused in gang-rape of 16-year-old shot by police
One of the four men accused in the gang-rape of a 16-year-old Dalit girl in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh was shot by the police when he and his accomplice tried to escape custody while being taken to a court.
The police said that they snatched a pistol from a policeman guarding them before attempting to flee.
The 16-year-old had died on Thursday night.
Quote: Injured accused being treated at a hospital
"Today both accused were being taken to court, when they escaped by grabbing the gun of a Police Inspector. A combing operation was launched...the accused opened fire on police. We returned fire and Lakhan was shot in his leg," said Keshav Kumar, Superintendent of Police (Rural).
Both the accused have been captured again, and the injured one is being treated at a local hospital.
Incident: Accused accosted girl when she was returning home from tuition
The girl and one of the accused studied at the same tuition, Kumar had earlier said.
He also revealed that the four accused allegedly accosted the girl while she was returning home from the tuition class on Thursday evening. They then allegedly raped her.
The accused are aged between 18 and 19 years, he further informed.
Details: Girl was taken to a hospital where she died
According to reports, the girl's family members had rushed her to a doctor in the village.
She was later taken to a city hospital where she died during the treatment on Thursday night, officials said.
The last rites of the deceased were performed after a post-mortem examination.
The girl's family says that she was administered poison by the accused.
Family's allegations: She came home bleeding in the evening, family says
In his statement to police, the girl's brother said, "When she did not reach home at the usual time, we went to the tuition center, but there we were told she had not come."
"We then launched a search but to no avail. When she reached our house late in the evening, she was bleeding, her clothes were torn and she could barely speak."
Police's statement: Police says girl consumed poison, wrote suicide letter
However, contrary to the family's claims, the police said that the girl consumed poison herself and a suicide note has also been discovered in which she named the accused.
"The suicide letter is authentic and in her handwriting but we will be sending it to the forensic science laboratory for further examination," a senior police official was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Case: Two of the four accused held by the police
A case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 302 (Murder) and 376 (Rape) was registered on Thursday night against the four accused.
Later, relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act were also added to the FIR.
Meanwhile, efforts are underway to nab the other two accused who are on the run.
Reaction: Former CM Akhilesh Yadav slams government over the incident
The incident has also evoked sharp reactions from leaders of Opposition parties.
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav slammed the state government in a tweet calling the matter "extremely sad and fear-inspiring for society."
Attacking CM Yogi Adityanath, Yadav added, "If the star pracharak (campaigner) gets free time from publicity, he should pay attention to this too."
Other incidents: Several crimes against girls reported from UP recently
Crimes against women and girls have been on the rise in UP.
In February, a four-year-old girl was found dead while her seven-year-old cousin was found injured after they went missing in UP's Shahjahanpur.
Just days before that incident, two teenaged Dalit girls were found dead in a field in the state's Unnao district while another girl was found lying unconscious there.
Suicide helpline: If you're having suicidal thoughts, please seek help
In case you need help or know someone who does, you can reach out to AASRA for suicide prevention counseling. Their number is 022 2754 6669 (24 hours).
You can also contact the Hyderabad-based Roshni NGO at +914066202000 or COOJ at +918322252525.
Sneha India Foundation, which works 24X7, can be contacted at +914424640050.
Vandrevala Foundation has trained counselors, and their number is 18602662345.