Ragini, a class 12 student aspiring to the an air hostess, had skipped school for a week to escape the daily harassment. Her family had complained to the Pradhan or village head about the stalking that had been on for six months, but nothing had changed. Prince Tiwari, the chief stalker, is the son of the Pradhan, Kripa Shankar Tiwari. They are among five arrested for the crime.
Ragini told her father on Tuesday, "How long will I live in fear?" She took out her bicycle and headed to school. Not long after, she was lying dead on the road, having been stabbed multiple times, her throat slit. Prince was arrested a day later and his father surrendered today.
The gang had apparently taken their terrorizing to a new level.
"When girls went to school, they used to click photos and harass them. They used to call boys from other villages too. No one in the village, not even the elders dared to go to the Pradhan and complain to him. They made life very difficult," said Vandana Yadav.
Her friend Sanjukta agreed: "The Pradhan's son made life hell for that girl (Ragini). They used to sit right at her doorstep. When it comes to going to the police, parents worry about their daughter's reputation."
A water pump next to Ragini's home was the hunting ground for Prince and his friends. There they sat all day and abused girls passing by.
Between 2015 and 2016, Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state, saw the highest number of crimes against women among states - 35,000.
When Yogi Adityanath came to power earlier this year at the head of a BJP government, the police set up anti-Romeo squads to stop stalkers. "This is an isolated incident in one village. It is a grave crime and I totally condemn it. But to question the work ethic of anti-Romeo squads using this incident is unfair," said police officer Anand Kumar.