Bhandara: Police claim progress in minors' rape and murder case

Bhandara, Maharashtra:  Ten days after the brutal rape and murder of three minor girls in Lakhani village in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra, there have been no arrests in the case yet.

Police sources however say that they have made headway in the investigation and hope to arrest the culprits soon.

Sources have told NDTV that six people have been brought in for questioning by a police team that went to Gujarat after the crime. A team was also sent to Rajasthan. While the police are not sharing details, they say that they have drawn up a rough sequence of events on the day the crime took place.

Sources say that there could be a local link to the crime as well. Call data records of all possible suspects who might have been in the vicinity of the crime scene when the incident occurred are being verified.

Maharashtra's Women and Child Development Minister, Varsha Gaikwad, who visited the victims' family on Saturday, admitted the police need to make arrests soon. She told NDTV, "If the accused are not nabbed within two days, the state Crime Investigation Department or CID should take over the investigations."

However RR Patil, Maharashtra's Home Minister backed the police by saying, "The investigation is taking time because the family is giving out conflicting information and no one from the village has come forward with any kind of information about the whereabouts of the girls on February 14."

Three minor sisters aged six, nine, and eleven went missing after school on February 14 in Lakhani village. Their bodies were recovered two days later from a well around two kilometres away from the village. The well is situated on fields just off the Nagpur-Raipur Highway. Post-mortem reports concluded that the girls were raped and murdered.

The police investigation is now focusing on when and how the bodies were dumped into the well. The lack of eye witnesses is making corroboration of leads a difficult and lengthy process. Police teams have also been searching the area for clues that might lead them to the culprits.

On Saturday, more than 500 students came out on the streets of Lakhni to demonstrate against the police's inability to catch the culprits yet. With the villagers' patience wearing thin, police are hoping they will be able to crack the case soon.

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