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The mother of a five-year-old Dalit girl, who was raped and murdered in a village in Gurgaon on Sunday, said she had gone out to purchase bangles on Karva Chauth and left her daughter in the care of neighbours. “I was back in 20 minutes… I didn’t know the man who lives next door from us would do this,” she said.

Sitting on the floor outside her one-room house, she cursed herself as her daughter’s body was taken for cremation on Monday afternoon.

“He (the accused) had been drinking liquor since morning. I told his mother that I was going to the market for Karva Chauth shopping and will be back soon and left my daughter in her care. He has been living here for the past 6-7 months and on an earlier occasion too, I had asked them for help. So, I assumed my daughter was safe. A day earlier, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday and all the tenants, including the accused, were present. I cannot trust anyone now,” she said, breaking down several times.

The accused, a 22-year-old labourer, and his mother had rented the room adjacent to the victim’s family.

Villagers said that at 10 am Sunday, the accused took her to a deserted area in the hills behind their homes on the pretext of buying her sweets. “After she went missing, we looked for her for two and a half hours. At 1 pm, a teenage boy saw the accused carrying the girl in his arms. The accused seemed to be intoxicated. The boy alerted the villagers, who caught him. He was found sitting next to her body, not far from her house,” said the landlord of the room the accused had rented.

The girl’s father said he had accepted some part-time construction work for Rs 600 for the day and was out at the time of the incident. “I work as a labourer, loading and unloading goods, six days a week. On Sunday, I pick up part-time work to make ends meet. I rushed home as soon as my wife informed me that our daughter had gone missing… I want justice. There should be a speedy trial and the accused should get death penalty,” he said.

On Monday, tension prevailed in the village after police booked 28 people for allegedly pelting stones and blocking the road outside the police station in the aftermath of the incident. The villagers had beaten up the accused and prevented him from being taken into custody, demanding that police hand him over so they could deliver “justice”. Police then shifted the accused to another location after villagers gheraoed the police station.

An autopsy conducted by a medical board on Monday confirmed that the girl was raped and throttled. “As per preliminary examination, she was sexually assaulted and throttled. She had several injuries in her genitalia, on her face and neck,” said Dr Deepak Mathur, a forensic expert who was part of the board that conducted the post-mortem.
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