Akshaya, 9, Suri, 6 and Khushi, 4, were daughters of three brothers who had come to the Nizamabad district for the wedding. Their charred bodies were found today, only a few km from the place where the family had gathered for the event, and where they were playing before they vanished.
The brothers' cousin, Narendra Reddy, allegedly took the girls on a ride in his car on Wednesday afternoon.
The girls' absence was noticed much later. At around 10.30 pm, Narendra reportedly called to say he was 40 km away, at a place called Basser, and was going to commit suicide. The entire family made frantic calls to him and even called the police for help. His watch and slippers have been found near a bridge.
Stunned relatives say they don't know why the girls were murdered; there was no property or any other dispute. The police have found a bottle of petrol near the girls' bodies. "It is a clear case of murder, but the motive is not clear," said District Superintendent of Police Tarun Joshi.
Some relatives speculate that Narendra, who was not married, may have committed the crime out of jealousy.
The fathers of Akshaya and Suri are civil contractors in Hyderabad. Raju Reddy, father of Khushi, is a manager with Reliance.