Fresh protests erupted over the murder of a two-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh today, forcing district authorities to impose restrictions on large gatherings in the area. Police claim that the girl was strangled by neighbours who wanted to get back at her grandfather following a dispute over Rs 10,000.
Orders issued by district authorities under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code-1973 prohibit four or more people from gathering in an area during times of unrest.
The murder first came to light on June 2, when a sanitation worker saw dogs nibbling at what seemed like a small cloth bundle at a garbage dump. The body of the victim, who had gone missing on May 30, was badly decomposed.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the case so far, and five police personnel suspended for not taking timely action. Although rape is yet to be confirmed, police have invoked the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act against two of the accused in the case. A number of political leaders, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati, have condemned the crime.
Meanwhile, Aligarh police refused to let Prachi Arya -- a Hindu religious leader and political activist -- into the affected area to prevent the situation from deteriorating any further. "Police denied permission to Hindutva leader Prachi to visit the area on Sunday. She was stopped at the border in view of the prevailing situation," news agency PTI quoted Senior Superintendent of Police Akash Kulhari as saying. Anybody who tries to disturb peace in the area will be dealt with appropriately, he added.
Another official said that vaginal swabs taken from the body have been sent for an examination to a laboratory in Agra, and the report due by next week will confirm whether she was sexually assaulted.
This morning, police used mild force to disperse an angry crowd that had gathered in the town to demand speedy justice for the dead girl. Police personnel were deployed in strength after calls for a fresh public protest came to the authorities' notice earlier today. Rapid Action Force personnel also took out a flag march to discourage potential rioters.
(With inputs from PTI)
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